Twenty years ago, Matthew and Lauren Accurso tied the knot. The couple were high school sweethearts and had eyes only for each other. Matthew, a doctor, and Lauren knew they wanted a big family and as devout Christians, they set out to create a future for themselves and their children.
First came Ali Rose, then Naomi Belle and Layne Louise. When it came time for the fourth baby to be welcomed into the fold, the family was thrilled to learn that it was a baby boy. Matthew and Lauren decided to name their son Matthew Jr. and his siblings now ages eight, five and two respectively, were so excited to have a new little brother.
While Lauren, 37, readied herself to give birth, everyone was filled with joy and excitement. They couldn’t wait to hold the newest bundle of joy. But something happened.
Lauren sustained a “very rare” medical emergency deemed unpreventable called an amniotic fluid embolism that causes a pregnant woman’s heart to stop beating. Lauren was whisked off to the hospital via ambulance where she underwent an emergency cesarean section. Shockingly, she passed away. She never had the chance to hold Baby Matthew.
But the horror didn’t stop there. Baby Matthew was struggling for his life, too.
He was whisked to the neonatal intensive care unit after suffering from significant brain injury attributed to being denied oxygen for a prolonged period of time during his birth. Matthew Sr. was reeling from the death of his longtime love, wrapping his mind around the fact that his three little girls no longer had a mommy and his brand new son was fighting for his life.
The family feared the worst for Matthew, but the little fighter initially proved everyone wrong.
Dad Matthew shared updates on Facebook about his wife’s heartbreaking passing and his little boy’s valiant efforts to stay alive.
“Matthew defied all odds and opened his eyes, breathed on his own, pumped blood through his strong heart, moved his limbs without rigidity and even made coo noises. His body slowly began to function, and he even gripped my finger when from what we were told, that should have been impossible.”
For 18 days, Matthew struggled. For 18 days, people around the world prayed for him. For 18 days, his dad also prayed fervently that his little boy would pull through. As they clung to hope, powered forward by Baby Matthew’s fighting spirit, they were given more heartbreaking news that his dad shared with friends and family on social media.
“Baby Matthew’s 18 days on earth are viewed as a miracle by everyone and they know that God has gifted them with that time so they are choosing to trust God and be grateful for the chance to hold him, cuddle him, sing worship over him and speak Gods word into him during the moments that God created.”
But Baby Matthew wouldn’t be getting better. He wouldn’t be coming home.
Baby Matthew had experienced severe cognitive function and development issues. He was being supported by a breathing machine requiring an airway tube, and also a feeding tube. Doctors determined that Matthew could not survive on his own off the machines.
“I wanted to whisk him away to our family condo on the beach and let the healing kisses of his sisters, grandmas, and cousins cleanse his little body of all his infirmities, but as life sometimes does, I was brought back down to the reality that my only son, the sweet boy that my wife so diligently and lovingly carried for 9 months is in a situation that daddy could not fix.”
Matthew Sr. made the gut-wrenching decision to remove his baby boy from life support and send him to heaven where his mom Lauren surely awaited him with open arms. Surrounded by family, Matthew held the little boy as they prayed over him, worshipped and said their goodbyes.
“Today I was faced with something no father should ever have to face. The decision to place Matthew on endless life-supporting contraptions and medications or allow God to carry him where He will. Today was one of the hardest days of my life. It will forever be etched in my brain. I sat in a room at Wolfsons hospital with 15 highly qualified medical professionals who all care deeply for our son Matthew. Unfortunately, the last thing I ever thought I would have to talk about as a father was now very real and happening.”
Matthew struggled with his faith and the torment he was facing. He admitted that he couldn’t understand why everything was happening either. Then he realized that his little boy actually was a miracle.
“So many thoughts have run through my head. ‘What more can I give Lord, you have my soul mate and now my son? That is all I can bear. Please shower your mercy over me. This weight is too great!’ Some will hear our story and think, what an awful tragedy. Some will think, where is God when we need him? Some will say, see, miracles don’t happen. But do you want the truth? Matthew is a living miracle. See, Matthew’s coming into the world was far from normal. The minute his mommy took her last breath Matthew was thrust from the most peaceful world one could ever know into a chaotic frenzy to save his mother and him.”
Matthew explained that what happened to his family may not look like a typical miracle to some. Most imagine miracles to be life-saving, path-altering and beautiful. They are answers to our prayers.
“What I’ve learned is that miracles are miracles whether we choose to see them or not. My miracle was having my soul mate by my side for almost 20 years and then being so blessed to give her four gorgeous babies. My miracle is holding my son for as many precious moments as possible and when the time comes, lifting him up to his mommy so that she can hold him for the first time in paradise.”
Dr. David Jockers and his wife Angel expressed their sorrow for Matthew and his family. He reminded everyone that “every second we are alive is precious and we are owed nothing on this planet, for our true home is in heaven.”
“Hold your spouse extra long tonight and look deeply into their eyes and tell them how much they mean to you!!”
Matthew spoke with WJXT afterward and explained how he is using his wife and son’s passing to educate others. He has created a nonprofit operated by himself and his daughters to help others.
“I want to raise awareness for this and even if it decreases the risk by one percent, I want to figure out how to help women understand this.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, amniotic fluid embolism is a rare but serious condition that occurs when amniotic fluid or fetal material, such as fetal cells, enters the mother’s bloodstream. Amniotic fluid embolism is most likely to occur during delivery or in the immediate postpartum period. Symptoms include sudden shortness of breath, excess fluid in the lungs, sudden low blood pressure, bleeding from the uterus, chills, heart rhythm irregularity, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
Hear Matthew reminisce about the love of his life and how he and his daughters are rebuilding their lives in the video below.
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