Prayers for Shane: Baby Shane Michael Haley's Short But Extraordinary Life Can Teach Us a Lot

The name “Shane Michael Haley” might not mean much to a lot of people, but to the nearly 717,000 people who follow the Prayers for Shane Facebook page, the baby to whom the name belongs is nothing short of extraordinary. His story is a sad one, but also one of hope and positivity: After he was diagnosed with a rare congenital birth defect while still in utero, his parents, Jenna and Dan, decided not to mourn Shane before he was born, but rather to celebrate him. He became “the bucket list baby,” and he finally arrived in the world on Thursday morning.

On April 10, Shane's parents learned that their unborn child was diagnosed with a terminal neural tube defect called anencephaly. It occurs in roughly one out of every 5,500 pregnancies; only 75 percent of babies born with it survive the birthing process, and even then, their life expectancy is no more than a few hours or days. But when Shane’s parents learned of his diagnosis, they decided they wanted him to have as many experiences as he could in the short time he had. Accordingly, they created a bucket list full of places to go, things to do, and people to meet while Shane was still growing inside his mother’s womb. They chronicled their adventures on a Facebook page they made for their son, Prayers for Shane: A trip to the zoo…

Watching a baseball game…

Going pumpkin picking…

And so much more. Shane’s due date was October 12, and they wanted to get as much in as they could before he arrived.

Shane was born at 2:25 a.m. on Thursday, October 9 and passed away just four hours later. His parents and family posted the statement below to the Prayers for Shane Facebook page:

“Today at 6:15AM, after meeting his entire family and being baptized into the Catholic faith, baby Shane died peacefully in his Mother's arms. We are so grateful for the time that we were blessed to hold and hug our son. The support and prayers we have received from all of you have been amazing and we want to thank each of you with all our hearts. Shane spent his entire life in the arms of people that loved him unconditionally and I don't think you could ask for a more beautiful life then [sic] that. He is home now with the Lord and will forever be our little miracle!”

Earlier, the Haleys had written, “Shane has already proven to us that each day must be lived to the fullest and that is exactly what our little family is doing.” The strength with which they approached the situation is truly inspirational. So today — and every day — let’s take that sentiment out into the world. Be kind to each other, and live your life as completely as you possibly can. We only have so much time on this strange little planet of ours, so let’s give it everything we’ve got.

Images: Prayers for Shane/Facebook