WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Philadelphia couple is turning tragedy into triumph after the loss of their first born baby girl. They are travelling cross-country, with their most recent stop in Wilmington, to spread the word of a charity they started in memory of their daughter, Ana.
Tom Mallery and Kate Koehn never dreamed their newborn baby girl wouldn't make it to her first birthday.
But after tragedy struck in February, they channeled their sorrow into a meaningful cause.
Ana Cru Mallery was born March 13, 2012.
Koehn had to have an emergency C-section because the baby wasn't breathing.
“The first sign I knew something was wrong was I never heard her cry,” Ana’s father, Tom Mallery said.
After several tests, and hardly any answers, doctor recommended bringing Ana home on hospice.
She died 5 months later, in her father's arms, while her mother sang to her.
Koehn says it was during Ana’s time in hospice she noticed a problem with the medical supplies.
“If you think of a child, a regular baby, think about how fast they grow out of clothing, or grow out of diapers,” Koehn said. “Now think about if they have medical uses.”
She said her home quickly filled up with boxes of unused medical supplies that Ana had grown out of.
“And then I'd have a hundred that were perfectly fine and sterile that I was told to throw in the garbage,” she said. “And I thought children are dying all over the world that could use the oxygen, and I can't just throw it in the garbage, I can't.”
That’s when they got the idea to salvage unused medical supplies and provide them to those in need all over the world; in a charity they named Project Sloopy, after their daughter.
“I want to just be a lifeline, a source for special needs families that if they can't get medical supplies from insurance companies or whoever, medical supply companies, they can call us,” Mallery said. “And we'll do everything in our power to get them the supplies they need”
The next stop for this travelling duo is Myrtle Beach. They have plans to visit Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. But don't worry Wilmington, they say they will be returning to the Port City as well.
For more information on how to get involved in the Sloopy Project, visit www.ProjectSloopy.com.