Warren Korneffel and his twin brother Kohler were born three months prematurely. Shortly beforehand, at 26 weeks pregnant, their parents found out that Warren had a condition in which the blood traveling through the umbilical cord was not nourishing him properly, and that an urgent C-section was required at 28 weeks and 5 days to deliver the boys safely. Despite several challenges, Warren and Kohler entered the world relatively healthy on October 23, 2013, weighing in at 1 pound 15 ounces and 2 pounds 10 ounces, respectively. Their parents fell in love at first sight with both of their precious boys.
Knowing their road would be a bit bumpy at the start, mom and dad rented a condo close to the hospital to be close to the boys while they remained in the NICU. The first few days were difficult, watching as they were intubated and extubated, and feeling somewhat helpless as parents; but, it seemed both boys were doing better. Warren, in particular, was very alert for hours at a time, showing his spirit and his feistiness, kicking his legs and staring up at his parents. He was their “little warrior.”
On day seven, however, mom just knew something was not right with Warren, and had a sudden urge to stay with him. Mom and dad would then find out that bacteria had invaded Warren’s lungs and airway, causing an infection. And, while the medical team gave their best effort to save him with CPR and medical interventions, on October 31, 2013, eight days after the boys’ birth, Warren passed away surrounded by his parents and extended family.
Determined to create a legacy for Warren — to continue parenting him, to show the world how important he is, and to set an example for his twin brother — the Korneffels established the Warren E. Korneffel Neonatal Research Fund in his memory. Their vision is to further research at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital focused on uncovering avenues to save premature babies and enhance their outcomes, as well as prevent premature birth. As a first step, the fund is supporting new groundbreaking research around immune dysregulation in neonatal sepsis. It is the Korneffels’ hope that no other parent has to experience the loss of a child.