Watching your newborn fight for their life is a devastating experience—something Nikki Ihus, mom to a baby with a rare birth defect, has experienced first hand. Stressed, she was looking for an outlet to vent when she got into Belinda Smith’s Uber taxi to go shopping for baby clothes. But Smith wound up offering way more than just a sympathetic ear.
After hearing about the mom’s struggles during their ride together, Smith ended her work day early to help the new mom shop for her newborn—and wound up buying 30 items of baby clothing as a gift.
Ihus is a new mom originally from Kansas City, but after learning her newborn, John Henry, had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), she moved with her mother to Johns Hopkins All Childrens in St. Petersburg, Florida, to give her son the best treatment possible.
CDH is a condition that requires extensive surgery and can threaten lung development in infants. “It’s a hole in the diaphragm that allows the organs in the abdomen to move into the chest cavity and causes really small lungs because it limits the space for them to grow,” Ihus told Fox News in an interview, adding, “The nurses actually told me not to Google anything when I found out because they knew the survival rates were not very good.”
Her son has been in the NICU since his birth on September 19. But after witnessing a procedure in which the doctors flipped her son on his stomach, allowing him to breathe on his own for the first time, Ihus decided to go to a local consignment shop to buy clothing for John Henry and called an Uber from the hospital.
Once she found herself in Smith’s car, she began telling her everything that she was going through, mentioning the recent procedure. After their drive together, Ihus got out and went into the shop, but rather than continuing her work day, Smith decided to go into the shop after her to help pick out clothes.
“I believe everyone gets in my car for a reason...She needed to talk and I was there to listen…She was in tears a couple of times and I really felt for her,” Smith tells The Bump. “She touched my heart, so I parked the car and turned Uber off. I went in and I found her and said, ‘This is a day that should be fun for you. And you shouldn’t be alone. Let’s shop.’”
Smith wound up buying Ihus 30 pieces of clothing for her one-month-old son, and the two have become friends. Smith even met John Henry earlier this week when she came to the hospital to visit Ihus.
“For this stranger to go completely out of her way—stop what she was doing and stop making money—to come be with me for a couple of hours while we shopped together, that was just incredible. She is my hero,” Ihus tells The Bump.
The friendship seems to be one that will last. Fox News reports that John Henry is expected to stay in hospital care for at least another three months, but Smith and Ihus already planning a trip to Disney World when he’s out of the hospital.