Saint Alphonsus nurses help grieving Boise family remember their loved one with Build-A-Bear

Posted at 6:30 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-17 00:51:29-04
"Justin was the life of the party."
For Wendy and Hailey Kynaston, not a day goes by they don't think of their son and brother, Justin.
"He's still there with us, we still get signs from him," said Justin's older sister Hailey Kynaston.
In September, the 21-year-old engineering senior at Idaho State University was with his friends in downtown Pocatello when he was hit by a drunk driver.
"They were drinking so he decided he was going to walk home. He was walking home and he got hit by a drunk driver. He did the responsible thing and got hit by somebody else that didn't," said Wendy Kynaston, Justin's mother.
"We didn't know at that time it was going to be that severe," Wendy continued.
Justin spent a month in a Pocatello hospital, then was brought to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. With severe brain injuries, on December 10, 2016, Justin passed away.
"My last words to Justin were I love you and it's okay you can go, it's time. They had put him up on the fifth floor at this point and he died peacefully. His whole family was around him and watched him leave his body. I just told him I love him," Wendy Kynaston said.
While Justin was in the ICU the Saint Alphonsus nurses became family to the Kynaston's, going above and beyond to help them remember their loved one. They created hand molds and fingerprints, and recorded Justin's heartbeat.
"That was pretty unexpected. They just said, 'hey, we've got an idea if you're interested,'" said Hailey Kynaston.
With help from the NICU the nurses set to work bringing a Build-A-Bear voice recorder to the room.
"What we can do with our machines is project the heartbeat so you can hear it out loud, just like you'd hear a baby's heartbeat in utero," said Jennifer Myers, the Lead Echo Sonographer at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
"She hooked Justin up to the ultrasound machine. We all recorded on our cell phones and she recorded on the voice recorder from Build-A-Bear," Wendy Kynaston recalled.
"He had a great strong heart. You could tell it was a really, really strong family and he was coming from a place that was really going to miss him a lot. After that you can't not go home and not cry, but I was really happy that all the right players were there that day," Myers said.
With that heartbeat, when the time was right a few months later, Wendy and Hailey were ready to put Justin's bear together.
"Justin loved gangster music so we built a gangster bear. And Justin was always walking around showing his gun show so we did it without a shirt. It was almost like Justin was with us telling us how he wanted his bear built. That was really hard. I bawled the whole time at Build-A-Bear, but I couldn't stop thinking about how much it meant to me and what the nurses did for us. I don't think they realize how much they did for us," Wendy Kynaston said.
Now in March, more than six months after the accident, Wendy returned to Saint Alphonsus. This time to say thank you.
"It's just nice to know the little things we do make a difference," said Margery Johnson, a Registered Nurse with the NICU at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
"We just do these things and we don't ever expect anybody to give us anything in return. It just comes from love and hope for the parents," Myers added.
"We send these moms home without their babies, and to be able to hold something tangible and hear the heartbeat. It's the first sign of life they ever heard," Johnson said of the Build-A-Bears.
And now Justin's memory lives on in a heartbeat.
"His heartbeat was so beautiful and now whenever we want to hear him, we can hear him," Wendy said.