The birth of a baby is usually a joyous occasion, however, for a couple in Texas, it was a much more heart-wrenching experience. Diane Aulger from The Colony, Texas, purposefully gave birth to her fifth child two weeks early so that her dying husband, Mark, would have the chance to meet his baby girl before he passed away .
A Dying Husband’s Wish
52-year-old Mike Aulger was diagnosed with colon cancer last April. Following surgery to remove the cancer, doctors gave him six months of precautionary chemotherapy, which badly damaged his lungs.
In November, he began having trouble breathing, and by January he had become sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. He learned that the chemotherapy treatment he had received had resulted in pulmonary fibrosis, but the family was optimistic that he would recover.
The reality, sadly, could not have been further from the truth. On January 16, just as Diane was getting ready to give birth to the couple’s fifth child, the couple learned that Mark’s condition would not improve, and he was given a mere five or six days to live.
His last wish was to see his new baby before he died, so Diane was scheduled to be induced on January 18. Mark was able to hold his baby girl, Savannah, for 45 minutes the day she was born. He was so tired that over the following couple of days, he was only able to hold her for a minute or so at a time, before slipping into a coma on January 21. Mark died two days later.
“I brought her home the night before he fell into the coma,” Diane said. “It was just me and Savannah when he passed away.”
Mark is also survived by the couple’s first two children, aged ten and seven, as well as Diane’s two other children who are fifteen and thirteen.
What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease in which the lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff as a result of damage and scarring. As it worsens, the condition can severely affect your ability to breathe.
This damage, unfortunately, cannot be undone. There are some medications and therapies that can help to lessen the symptoms and improve the quality of life of the affected person, however, sometimes a lung transplant might be required .
The Complications of Cancer Treatment
Chemotherapy treatment affects any active cell, which is a cell that is growing and dividing. This means that chemotherapy will not only attack a cancer cell but a healthy cell as well, which can have negative health consequences.
This can result in headaches, muscle pain, stomach pain, and pain from nerve damage. Many side effects will go away once treatment is stopped, however, nerve damage can sometimes take months or years to heal.
The side effects a patient experiences will depend on the type of chemotherapy medication they are given, and there are some long-term side effects that could occur. Some types of chemotherapy can cause permanent damage to the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, or reproductive system. Some people also have trouble with thinking, concentrating, and memory for months or years after treatment .
Support From the Community
Since Mark passed, the Aulger’s home has been flooded with gifts. Friends, family, and even complete strangers have been donating food, clothing, diapers, and cash to support the now single mother of five.
A California businessman heard about the family’s story and donated enough money so Diane could purchase a minivan.
“It does feel nice that there are so many caring people in the world,” said Aulger .
The family is doing their best to keep the memory of Mark alive. Diane plans to cover their home with pictures of him, and her children are constantly talking about their funny dad.
“We’re living day-to-day as if dad’s still here,” said Diane. “We know dad is here with us.”
- ‘Diane Aulger induces labor weeks early to let dying husband Mark hold baby’ CBS News. Published February 13, 2012
- ‘Pulmonary fibrosis’ Mayo Clinic
- ‘Side Effects of Chemotherapy’ Cancer.net
- ‘Love (and money) pours in for the Texas mom who induced labor to let dying husband see his baby girl’ Culture Map Houston Whitney Radley. Published February 17, 2012