South Bend infant dies from health complications

Last month, NewsCenter 16 introduced you to a South Bend infant named Maci Puskar, who was in a severe fight for her life.

On Saturday, Maci passed away following a viral infection that her immune system just couldn't handle; she was only eight-months-old.

Since birth, Maci suffered from wide-range of medical ailments including a closed trachea, intestines outside of her body and irregular blood flow which was slowing killing her heart.

By all accounts, the fact that Maci lived to be eight months is a miracle in and of itself.

"You can't explain the feeling, it was just really hard,” Maci’s mother Tanisha Puskar said.

Tanisha and her husband Jeff had feared the question of "what if,” since Maci was born.

It was May 6, 2011 when flight crews airlifted the infant’s 6 lb. 1 oz. body to Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. There days turned to months, but in December, Maci made her first trip home where she stayed for 18 days.

"Her eyes were rolling back in her head, she wasn't moving, we couldn't get a response from her, and we couldn't get her to look at me,” Tanisha recalled.

It was the morning of Jan. 15, when paramedics transported Maci's lifeless body to Memorial Hospital’s emergency room.

"They just couldn't get her heart to beat by itself and they couldn't find a pulse and they pronounced her dead at 10:08 a.m.," Tanisha added as she tried holding back tears.

Time has since stood still in the living room Maci had grown accustomed too. It’s the same story in her nursery where keepsakes rest in every corner. More than four dozen teddy bears sit in her crib, while her nightstand holds a lock of hair and mold of her hands, taken moments after she passed.

Down the hall and in the dining room, family members prepared a collage for Maci’s viewing, something they’d always prayed to never see.

"I’m just so sorry Jeff,” a woman told Maci’s father inside Bubb Funeral Chapel in Mishawaka.

Although home videos at the wake reminded Maci’s family of the good times, her tiny casket served the stark reality of the present moment.

"I love you Jeff, I always will. If I could've traded places I would've. I mean that with all my heart,” the same woman added.

It goes without saying, Maci Puskar lived a short life, but those closest to her say she went with dignity, and did so without ever saying a single word.

The Puskar family has setup a memorial fund for baby Maci. Half of the donations collected will be given to other families with children at Riley Hospital. If you'd like to contribute to the account, visit any Teachers Credit Union location and ask for the "Maci Puskar Foundation Fund."


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