St. Lucie County parents of viral twin photo mourn loss of son, hope to raise awareness

Posted at 12:01 AM, Sep 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-08 09:24:38-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- A sweet picture of newborn twins from St. Lucie County hugging each other was seen by millions of people.

But the story behind the photo of Hawk and Mason was even more touching.

One of the twins, Hawk, was diagnosed with CDH, or Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.

It’s a life threatening disorder, which in a sad development to the twins’ story, claimed Hawk's life. His mother, Brandy Guettler, made the heartbreaking announcement Wednesday.


Hawk’s father, Tommy Buchmeyer, says Hawk was essentially born without a diaphragm. CDH has varying levels of severity. Typically, there is a hole in the diaphragm. Other organs can then get into the chest cavity causing difficulty breathing and other life threatening effects.

Brandy and Tommy returned to their St. Lucie County home Wednesday for the first time since July 2.

But, it was not the homecoming they dreamed about for more than nine months. Only one twin made the trip home from Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

They knew the outcome for Hawk was grim when they were told early on in the pregnancy about his CDH, but there was always hope.

“Devastation. Our specialist that we saw a Shands, because it’s so not well known, pretty much gave us some grim news.”

On the twins’ birthday, Aug. 18, Buchmeyer said Mason was born only four minutes before Hawk. Once Hawk was delivered, he immediately began the fight for his life.

“They took him straight out of the room. Neither one of us got to hold him.”

For the next 20 days, Hawk’s life was like a rollercoaster ride. Some days he’d make big improvements. Out of nowhere, his condition could take a turn for the worse.

“He never quit, no matter what got thrown at him,” said Buchmeyer.

He struggled to breathe, had surgery, even flat-lined.

“He fought and fought and fought every battle ... from his kidneys to his liver shutting down to the brain bleeds and the underlying CDH factor,” said Buchmeyer.

In the weeks of stress, Brandy managed to snap a picture of the two laying in the NICU. She posted the picture online, and quickly, the picture became viral.

Hawk’s parents hope that picture will help contribute to a bigger purpose for Hawk’s life -- teaching more people about CDH. It’s a condition they never knew about, and fear many other people may not know about.

It affects an estimated 1,600 newborn babies each year in the United States.

“That would be amazing, that’s our goal. That’s 100 percent our goal,” said Buchmeyer.

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