BUFFALO, N.Y. — A bittersweet day is approaching for a Buffalo man — the first anniversary of the passing of his wife who died during childbirth, and the first birthday of their healthy baby girl.
Now, Justin Waclawek is trying to turn the tragedy into something positive, by starting a foundation in Alison's memory.
Waclawek said he cherishes every day with his daughter, Ada, but he admits even she can't fill the huge hole left in his heart.
"Every day is still kind of the worst day, but Ada makes it bearable. She helps me get through," he said.
August 16 will be Ada's first birthday, and also the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Alison Waclawek, a pharmacist who tragically did not survive childbirth.
To see the original WGRZ news story about Ali, click here.
She died of an Amniotic Fluid Embolism, a rare maternal complication affecting 1 in 40,000 deliveries. It is essentially an allergic-like reaction to amniotic fluid getting into the bloodstream. The AFE Foundation says it is unpredictable, unpreventable, and often fatal.
In many cases, the baby also does not survive. Fortunately, Ada is not only alive, she is thriving and meeting her milestones.
"She's awesome. She's very pleasant and happy," Waclawek said.
To keep her memory alive, Justin created the Alison Rose Foundation with the mission to raise funds for AFE research and for medical care for all moms and babies.
"It's a good distraction," he said. "It keeps me busy is one thing. But it's also kind of what Ali did. She was always out there helping other people so it kind of motivates me to continue that."
When doctors were trying to save Ali's life, they used 18 units of blood for transfusions, and it still wasn't enough. That's why The Alison Rose Foundation is holding a blood drive on Saturday, July 25, in her memory.
It is being held at D'Youville College, where Ali and Justin met in pharmacy school.
If interested in donating blood, you're encouraged to pre-register. Visit ConnectLifeGiveBlood.org and enter Sponsor Code 000616 or call ConnectLife at (716) 529-4270. Photo ID is required to donate.
More information can be found on the Alison Rose Foundation's website by clicking here.
Justin hopes he's making Ali proud, for the way he's carrying on her legacy, and the way he's raising their daughter.
"I can feel her a lot," he said. "Especially when I'm looking at Ada and you just kind of connect to her in a different way. It has been a struggle, so those are the moments when I feel her here with us."