Omaha shaken baby dies just shy of 12th birthday

A metro child who was nearly shaken to death by his father as a newborn survived much longer than many people ever thought.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 7:15 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A metro child who was nearly shaken to death by his father as a newborn survived much longer than many people ever thought.

The child’s adoptive mother is remembering her son for how he lived and thanks those who cared for him in his final days.

It’s a difficult decision for many families - understanding when a sick loved one is out of options and will never recover.

“After cardiac arrest, you’re never really the same,” said Melanie Bartlett of Papillion.

Bartlett recently sought out hospice care for her son Antonio.

“The loss of a child is a lot different than some of our elderly clients because there is so much these kids are going to miss out on,” said Maria Knutson, the pediatric program director with Endless Journey, a hospice service.

Antonio barely made it out of infancy. His father went to prison for child abuse. When he was two months old Antonio suffered several skull fractures, bleeding on the brain and a broken leg.

Doctors thought the baby had been held by his feet and slammed into a hard object several times.

“It’s very difficult to see children suffer the consequences of someone else’s choices,” Bartlett said. “Those people often go on to live life pain-free, machine free and Antonio was never able to do that.”

Antonio’s father got out of prison three years ago after serving nine years for child abuse.

“He was in his house surrounded by love which is how he spent his life,” Bartlett added.

According to his mother, Antonio Bartlett lived a life of love, humility and peace. He almost lived long enough to celebrate his 12th birthday.

“There were a lot of things doctors told us he wouldn’t be able to do that he was able to do.”

He surrounded himself with everything giraffe-related. Even today his mother wears a giraffe neckless and carries his stuffed animal around.

“He was a giraffe his first Halloween. It was an ongoing joke with our family because he had no neck. He just had a chubby face that sat on top of his chest. The fact that he was a giraffe on Halloween was always funny to us.”

His mother thought the experts of end-of-life care at Endless Journey would allow Antonio and his family to be comfortable in the final days at home.

“We get asked all the time how do you do that? It must be so hard? “It’s actually the most humbling experience of someone’s life to be present when someone takes their last breath. That is one of the most intimate moments you can share with another person,” said Melanie Costlow with Endless Journey.

“He was the center of our world, so we’re kind of lost in orbit and trying to find something to hold on to,” Bartlett said.

The child’s father was released from prison in 2019 after serving nine years of his 15-year sentence for felony child abuse.

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