On August 12, 2011, Hayden Michael Nowkhah was born seemingly healthy. At six days old, Hayden was back in the hospital with a 102 degree fever due to a virus that had attacked his fragile heart. Within a matter of days, Hayden was near the top of the heart transplant waiting list. At just 39 days old, Hayden passed way leaving Dari and Jenn Nowkhah to grieve the loss of their precious and brave baby boy.
Because of Hayden’s experience, and because thousands of infants go through the same thing every year, Jenn and Dari decided to create ‘Hayden’s Hope’ to raise awareness for pediatric organ donation. In addition, Hayden’s Hope works in conjunction with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), to raise money to cover transplant-related expenses in honor of children awaiting life-saving transplants.
For the past several years, Hayden’s Hope has held numerous golf outings, promoted online ticket sales surrounding the NBA playoffs, and organized other fundraising events. Most recently Hayden’s Hope orchestrated a successful t-shirt fundraiser. Nick Nowkhah, Hayden’s brother, conducted a t-shirt sale that resulted in more than $500 being raised for Hayden’s Hope. In past years Big Brother Nick has headed up other fundraising activities that have raised additional gifts in honor of COTA kids supported by the charity.
Medical bills, travel costs to and from transplant centers, lengthy stays away from home and in many cases, loss of income not only negatively impacts transplant families – it devastates them financially. COTA families receive 100% of the financial gifts raised through Hayden’s Hope, which now total more than $225,000. The Nowkhah family hopes that Hayden’s story inspires others to help children achieve successful transplants and a second chance at life.
Due to the Nowkhah’s families’ huge hearts, Hayden’s story lives on. It is the story of a baby who died waiting for a heart, but whose heart is definitely beating through the hope and love being shared with transplant-needy children nationwide. Jenn and Dari’s hope is that Hayden’s story continues to inspire others to give so that more children are able live the life they were meant to live.