Magnus Hay was a fighter his whole life.
Born Sept. 2, 2013, the infant boy fought one medical battle after another for three months and five days until he died peacefully from a rare blood disease on Dec. 7. He never made it home from Health Sciences Centre.
While Magnus was fighting his battle, Winnipeg Harvest, located just a few blocks from the hospital, issued an urgent plea for $100,000 to meet the needs of its Hunger for Hope program. The program raises money to provide infant formula/baby food for infants in the city.
While making dinner that night, River Heights mother and 99.1 Fresh FM radio host Susan Krepart heard on the radio about Harvest’s desperate need for baby formula.
"I had a visceral reaction, I have no idea why," the mother of two said. "I’m not the type of person to do something like this; I’ve never done anything like this in my life… I just said ‘Screw it.’ I went to my computer, and I was crying, and I just said ‘Look, give me money, give me formula.’"
On Facebook, Krepart offered to drive across the city to pick up donations of cash and formula.
Her friends were generous with donations and also ‘shared’ her plea. Soon Krepart had strangers from all over Winnipeg offering to give her money and formula.
After collecting well over her goal of $200, Krepart received a special Facebook message from Jennifer Hay — baby Magnus’ mother. Hay offered Krepart formula for the drive.
Krepart was just about to head to Hay’s home to pick it up the formula when Hay’s cousin sent her a private message through Facebook.
"She private messaged me saying, ‘That’s my cousin, and she probably doesn’t want to see strangers right now because her baby just died,’ Krepart said, goosebumps rising on her arms.
"So I am crying again at my keyboard thinking of a mother… I can’t even imagine. When you’re a mom — I cannot shake these goosebumps — for a mom, it’s just such a living hell."
Once she learned the Hays’ full story, Krepart named her formula drive The Magnus Hay Baby Food Campaign.
Jennifer Hay said that, after Magnus was born, he was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition whereby bowel tissue dies. Then he was diagnosed with a stricture in his bowel. He survived surgery but suffered from a blood clot and full-body sepsis. A few days before Magnus’ death, his doctors diagnosed him with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.
"Eventually, through statistics, what they say that he passed from was a respiratory failure," Hay said.
When Hay saw Krepart’s plea on Facebook, she’d just been speaking with her husband, Jason, about what to with the things they had bought and put together in anticipation of Magnus’ arrival.
"My son is no longer here, but all this formula is going to babies and giving these babies full tummies, when some of us don’t have the luxury of having our babies," Hay said.
In just two weeks, Krepart, Hay, and many other volunteers raised 885.5 pounds of baby formula and $25,396.51 in cash donations.
Krepart said the campaign will be back. She’s thinking of running it again in the spring but it will definitely be on next December, in Magnus’ name.
"What a little fighter," Krepart said of Magnus’ short life.
"For three months and five days of his life, he fought every day," Hay said of her son.
"It goes to show for the rest of us, you know?"