Newborn who became Facebook sensation succumbs to rare birth defect

Thu Oct 9, 2014 5:56pm EDT
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By Daniel Kelley

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A newborn baby whose terminal diagnosis prompted his parents to create a "bucket list" that was followed widely on Facebook, died on Thursday, less than four hours after his birth at a suburban Philadelphia hospital.

Shane Francis Haley was born at Riddle Memorial Hospital in Media, Pennsylvania, at 2:25 a.m., according to the "Prayers for Shane," the page created by his parents to chronicle their lives with the unborn child, checking off activities on their bucket list.

"Today at 6:15 a.m., after meeting his entire family and being baptized into the Catholic faith, baby Shane died peacefully in his Mother's arms," the family wrote to more than 700,000 people who had "liked" the Facebook page.

Shane suffered from anencephaly, a birth defect in which a baby is born without portions of the brain and skull. It affects about one out of every 4,800 births, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Babies with the condition typically die shortly after birth.

The page featured pictures of the baby's pregnant mother, Jenna Gassew, and his father, Dan Haley, going to a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game, celebrating Father's Day at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey, and visiting Amish country in Pennsylvania.

In one post, the family celebrated Halloween in September by painting the mother's belly to look like a jack-o-lantern.

Shane's parents, who live outside Philadelphia, started the page to raise awareness about anencephaly and to ask others to pray that they might be given as much time as possible with the baby

(Editing By Frank McGurty; Editing by Sandra Maler)