DONOR STORIES

Baby Jantz
After 12 years of marriage to her high school sweetheart, Michelle Adams suddenly found herself in the role of single parent to her four children, ranging from 7 years down to 5 months old. “When Brett passed away, I assumed I would be single the rest of my life,” admits Michelle. But eventually love would find her again.

His name was Jantz, and he’d played on the football team with Brett at Edmond Memorial High School. A phone call led to dinner, the couple started dating and after a two-year courtship, Jantz and Michelle were married.

On July 19, 2007, Jantz Hughes Kinzer, Jr. was born. Known as “Baby Jantz”, this curly blond-headed, blue-eyed boy became the newest member of his large, blended family. His older sisters and brothers included Logan, Payton, Ashlynn and Cade - and they absolutely adored Baby Jantz, playing with him and teaching him everything they could.

Eager to please, Baby Jantz quickly learned his ABCs, 123s, and a multitude of new words. He loved attention and making people laugh. The family’s home is nestled on five wooded acres with an assortment of animals, a barn, room to run and a world to explore. It was a wonderland for Baby Jantz.

“He had a little wheelbarrow that he pushed all over the property,” laughs Michelle. “When it was warm enough, he’d go outside, pull his diaper off and run around pushing his wheelbarrow. Baby Jantz loved the dogs, cats and other animals… you couldn’t keep him in the house.”

“Baby Jantz liked to be tickled,” shares Jantz. “He’d get to the point where he’d say ‘stop’, but then he’d want more right after that. He was quite a little trooper. He liked to go out with me to shoot arrows. He’d help me pull them out of the target, and wherever I was standing he’d hold my arrows for me and hand me a new one.”

Baby Jantz loved large family gatherings. For his second birthday party, there were more than 40 people at the house. Michelle explains, “We had Jantz’s family, my family and all the Adams – with all the aunts, uncles and cousins. We were singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, and it was sweet to see him realize that all of the attention was for him. Since then, whenever we had a birthday Baby Jantz would crawl up in the birthday kid’s lap… he thought it was all for him again.”

It was an October afternoon, pretty much like any Friday after school. Michelle picked up the kids, took them home and Logan was getting ready for her dance class. Ashlynn had some friends with her and Payton was away at a friend’s house. Cade and Baby Jantz were outside playing and Michelle was in the kitchen with Ashlynn and one of her friends.

“When Cade came in the house I noticed Baby Jantz wasn’t with him, so I sent the three kids out to find him,” Michelle remembers. Moments later Ashlynn’s friend, Blaise, burst through the back door saying that Baby Jantz was in the pool.

5-year-old Cade had already jumped in and pulled Baby Jantz to the side when Michelle got there. She lifted her 2-year-old from the water, laid him down and immediately began CPR. Oldest daughter, Logan, dialed 911 for help, and then she called Jantz to tell him what was happening.

Every breath that Michelle blew into her son’s limp body brought up more water. What seemed like an eternity was actually less than 5 minutes as firemen arrived from the nearby station house. Not long after that the EMTs pulled in the drive with their ambulance and Jantz drove up.

“They put Baby Jantz on a stretcher and loaded him up after I got there,” says Jantz. “They wouldn’t let me in the back, but I rode in the ambulance with him to the hospital.”

Neighbors consoled the rest of the children, and Michelle’s friend, Laura, was already waiting in the house to drive her to Children’s Hospital.

When Michelle arrived, Baby Jantz was in the emergency room and was looking much better. His heart was going, he was on oxygen and his color was back. Much of their family and many friends were there with Jantz by that time - as the phone tree had lit up.

Early on the doctors told Jantz and Michelle that her quick thinking and CPR might well have saved their baby’s life. “They weren’t saying he was fine, but it was encouraging,” remembers Michelle. “His pupils were responsive and they had him on a ventilator, but he was breathing on his own most of the time.”

Another doctor sat down with Jantz and Michelle later that evening. “He explained that in his experience he’d seen other children come in like Baby Jantz. He’d never seen a child that they had to start back up like that – who had survived,” shares Michelle. “That was really hard to hear, but I respected his honesty. I guess it kind of prepares you for what might happen.”

Jantz and Michelle took turns sleeping with Baby Jantz in his little hospital bed. Friends and family members stayed through the night in the waiting room.

Doctors examined Baby Jantz the next morning. His pupils had stopped dilating and contracting by 8:00 a.m. They took him in for a cat scan and the results were not good. More tests were scheduled for the afternoon. “By 9:00 a.m. we knew Baby Jantz was brain dead,” says Michelle.

“Jantz and I had already talked about organ donation, and I think he mentioned to the doctor we would want to do that,” explains Michelle.

“They asked us about donation, but we didn’t have to think about it,” remembers Jantz. “There would be no reason not to try help somebody.”

Baby Jantz stayed in his hospital room again Saturday night. His brothers, sisters, family and friends got to spend a little more precious time with him. Jantz and Michelle had one last night with their baby boy, taking turns again in his small bed.

Sunday morning came, and after the last of many tearful goodbyes, Baby Jantz was taken to give his gifts of life. Thanks to the compassionate decision of Jantz and Michelle, their son’s kidneys saved a 54-year-old Oklahoma woman and his liver saved an 18-month-old baby boy in Texas.

From his loving family, “Our hearts are broken and we miss him terribly, but find comfort in the promise that the next time we see Baby Jantz it will be forever.”


Baby Jantz with family pets

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