YWCA O‘ahu Tributes
In loving memory of Quinn Recktenwald
Quinn was born on April 23, 2017 at 12:36 PM at Kaiser Moanalua. She was 5 lbs 7 oz and 18 inches long. From the moment Quinn was born, she possessed so much strength, curiosity, and a zest for life. She immediately had her eyes open and could already lift her little head up. Even though she was a few weeks early and pretty tiny, she was healthy and beyond beautiful. She had a sweet and peaceful little soul that had a calming effect on our busy home filled with boys. Quinn just wanted to be held and loved on. You didn't need to rock her or sing or anything. She would just contently rest in your arms and look up at you with her big eyes that hadn't yet settled on a color and beautiful long lashes. At night, we would rock her long past when she had fallen back asleep. We would argue over who got to hold her while we watched tv before bed.
Quinn had a bow for every day of the week and more clothes than anyone I know. She loved bath time, her nightly pamper sessions with mommy. I think it's safe to say she would have been a girly girl.
Kokokahi would have been where we had her first baby luau. In fact, I may have been guilty of already starting to plan it. It was going to be pineapple themed because I called her "My Little Pineapple".
At first it was sad to me that a summary of her life could fit into such a short email. Then I realized that there's just so much about Quinn and our connection with her that simply can't be put into words. I know I am biased, but I truly feel that there was something deeply special about Quinn and I think that everyone who had met her or been affected by her story would agree.
Quinn's official cause of death is called idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage. It is extremely rare, affecting between .24 and 1.23 per million people. It primarily affects children, the average age being 4 and is more common in girls. With acute hemorrhaging, such as in Quinn's case, death may occur rapidly. Historically the prognosis is poor, with the average length after diagnosis of 2.5 years, however, today, 86% may live beyond 5 years. Once diagnosed, they will have repeated episodes leading to pulmonary and right heart failure. The current mainstay treatment are corticosteroids, however, there is no established standard of care. As this disease is diagnosed once a child is already in pulmonary distress in the emergency room, it is important that awareness is raised so doctors recognize and treat appropriately. One of the criteria of this disease is that it happens to an otherwise completely healthy baby. There are no obvious symptoms until the child is under respiratory distress due to bleeding into the lungs. The cause is unknown, hence being categorized as "idiopathic". It has been known to occur in clusters and has been connected to mold in the household, although the CDC states a link with mold has not been proven at this time. It is possible to have a genetic or environmental component that is yet to be determined.
Idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage starts with massive bleeding in the lungs, which leads to the lungs collapsing and cardiac arrest. The doctors did not recognize the disease and Quinn was not treated with corticosteroids.
When Quinn passed, we knew immediately that we did not want a stuffy, formal funeral. We wanted a celebration of her life and knew that Kokokahi would be the perfect spot to gather with friends and family in remembrance of such a beautiful soul. We also knew that the YWCA as a whole would be the perfect recipient of donations made in Quinn's honor. We had Quinn cremated in order to keep her at home where we felt she belonged, however, he still frequently visit the tree on the waters edge at Kokokahi as a physical spot to feel near her. It is where we had a picnic to remember her on what would have been her first birthday and will continue to visit on her birthdays.
It was very important to us that some good came out of this tragedy and the YWCA was integral in helping us to find this good. The staff at the YWCA helped us to get involved in advocacy for paid family leave in Hawaii. With their assistance, I was guided to submit both written and oral testimony during the 2018 legislative session, participated on a panel in support of paid family leave, which aired on olelo, and appeared on Hawaii News Now Local Connection to share Quinn's story in support of paid family leave. I never would have even known where to start with all this without the guidance and support of the YWCA.
Most importantly, the YWCA made us feel loved and supported during the darkest time of our lives. They have continuously honored Quinn's memory, which is what parents want most after losing a child. We want Quinn to have a legacy, which the YWCA has made possible for us.