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Caleb, or "Bubba" as he was deemed by his sister, Lydia, was a happy, vibrant, energetic ray of sunshine. My husband and I, along with his siblings Abby (13), Tony (11), Lukas (9), Eliza (7), and Lydia (5), love to share our numerous joyful memories of our little crazy man. His corn silk hair and crystal blue eyes were known to melt many hearts and save him when he was being trouble. I used to joke that God made the feisty ones the cutest, so you don't get as mad at them. As the youngest of 6 siblings, Caleb could hold his own even though he was only 2.  He loved all things athletic, especially football and baseball.  His natural athletic ability was evident at an early age.  He also found joy in the arts, especially drawing and music.  It wasn’t uncommon for him to spend hours meticulously drawing his detailed pictures with pen held perfectly in hand.  When it came to music, he loved to play as well as shake his baby booty to the beat!

As his third birthday approached and he was snoring more and more and his speech continued to be delayed.  So, we sought advice from an ENT due to what appeared to be severely enlarged tonsils. It was decided that removing both his tonsils and adenoids would improve his sleep and speech.


Caleb had surgery on December 12, 2014 at 7a.m. and was discharged late that afternoon. He fell asleep in his daddy's arms at 8:20PM, shortly after coughed, and fresh blood was visible when he did so. We immediately rushed out to the car to return to the hospital. Our sweet Bubba love went into cardiac arrest in the operating room, but was stabilized. As a result of the length of his cardiac arrest, his brain was deprived of oxygen for a long time. He was then transferred to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital where he was pronounced brain dead on December 17, 2015...just one day before his third birthday.


True to his giving spirit, Caleb's organ donation surgery took place on his birthday. The incomparable staff at UICH and the Iowa Donor Network handled our lovie with the greatest of care and respect. They shared our tears and our sorrow. Bubba's gifts were endless in life and have been, and we are working to ensure they will continue to be, immeasurable in his death.

We never got to give him his birthday and Christmas presents, but we'd love to continue to give in his name. The more good that can come from this terrible tragedy, the easier it is for everyone to make some sense of this. We do not know why this happened, but we strive to have a positive impact on as many lives as we possibly can. Through this work we're finding our new normal, our new purpose.


-Jenelle Shamrell (Caleb’s mommy)

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