Henry’s hope lives on
Oct 31, 2016 03:53PM
By Huy Tran
The Metcalf family with baby Henry at Primary Children’s Hospital (Gusty Darling)
By Huy Tran | [email protected]
West Valley, Utah - In the 75 days he was alive, William Henry Bishop Metcalf, born with a syndrome called Trisomy 18, fought innumerable odds and touched countless lives around him. His story moved hundreds and brought about a message of strength and hope in the community.
Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, is a condition where a developing baby has an extra chromosome 18. This creates several developmental issues that can prove to be life threatening in the early months of life. Studies show only 50 percent of these children will be born alive, with boys in particular having a lower rate of survival.
Henry indeed had many challenges stacked against him.
“It’s hard to lose your baby,” said Henry’s mother Jeanine Metcalf. “It was a new diagnosis every single day, it seemed like.”
Baby Henry was born six weeks prematurely with holes in his heart and weak lungs. He endured pneumonia, an intestinal infection and a broken arm due to his rushed delivery. Chest compressions were performed to start Henry’s heart. As soon as his respiration stabilized, he was evacuated on Life Flight to Primary Children’s Hospital.
However, the Metcalf family received a massive outpour of love and support from the community. Many people locally and out of state helped organize funding services for Henry and “#HopeforHenry” became a movement that inspired all to stand up and make a difference.
From donation jars at the local Beans & Brews Coffee Houses to car washes, friends and family came together to help. A crowdfunding page was set up for Henry and GoFundMe alone raised more than $4,000 for his cause, most of which came from people the family did not know.
Henry’s funeral service took place on Sept. 22, which was broadcasted as far as Germany. Christian Stevens, a family friend, sang with BYU’s a cappella group Vocal Point and presented a special number for the event. He performed Disney’s “Go the Distance” from the film “Hercules”, and moved the entire audience.
“He was my favorite,” Metcalf said. “Because of how young he is, the innocence of his voice captured Henry’s essence really well.”
The day of the funeral featured a variety of events. The skies filled with balloons as 150 locals gathered for a Hope for Henry balloon launch.
“It was funny, because so many of them got stuck together while others flew off separately,” said Metcalf, laughing. “But I found that to be true of Henry’s story. We all stuck together and it completely changed the dynamics of our family.”
Indeed, his story taught the importance of family and how love can always bring people together. Henry was a beacon of light to everyone around him, and stood as a reminder to the community that hope exists in the world. He taught all the lessons of forgiveness and compassion.
“Henry has taught me to see the sunshine through the trees, to thrive and not just survive,” Metcalf said. “To enjoy each and every moment, to see the beauty even in the darkest moments and to trust in God and His eternal plan.”
Henry is survived by his mother and father, brothers Taylor and Collin, and sisters Alyssa, Piper and Darci.
The annual Festival of Trees will be displaying a tree this year in remembrance of Henry. The event will be from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at the South Towne Exposition Center located at 9575 S. State Street in Sandy. All proceeds will give “A Gift of Love” to children at Primary Children’s Hospital this holiday season. To learn more about this event, visit www.intermountainhealthcare.org.