DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A Fairborn mother and grandmother found comfort after the loss of micro preemie “Baby Willow” by hosting a blood drive in her memory.

Willow Nelson was born premature Dec. 29, 2022 at 25 weeks, six days. She was a “micro preemie,” a baby born prior to the 26th week of pregnancy and weighing less than 28 ounces.

The odds were against Willow. She weighed just 13 ounces and was only 10 inches long. She was diagnosed “growth resistant”, and the blood transfusions she received were measured in droplets.

“They gave her a one percent chance of even coming out, said her mother Arianna Wagers. “She beat that.”

Support from “Willows Warriors” poured in through social media. Willow had survived a week when Arianna and her mother Shawn Borchert planned a blood drive in her honor.

“I knew a friend on Facebook who did a blood drive for her two daughters,” Arianna said. “They started giving her blood transfusions and that’s when you said this would be giving back,” said Shawn.

Willow was five weeks old when she passed away Feb. 5. The family dedicated the Community Blood Center blood drive in her memory. The blood drive was held March 24 at Shaffer Chiropractic.

“I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We’ll reach out to family and friends,” Shawn, who has worked for Dr. Randall Shaffer Chiropractic for 21 years, said. “I’m the office manager here. The Shaffer family donates a lot, and he was onboard for having it here.”

Megan Moorefield, Dr. Shaffer’s daughter, is a regular platelet donor with 47 lifetime donations. She was one of 27 donors that boarded the CBC Bloodmobile to donate in memory of Willow.

“I wanted to do this today, and I will be back,” Megan said.

Arianna’s donation in memory of her daughter was her first lifetime donation. She was among nine first time donors Friday.

“I was nervous,” she said. “But not now. I feel better that it was to help others, and to help the people that helped Willow.”

“It’s for awareness,” said Shawn, who gave all donors purple “#Willowstrong” wristbands. “We want more people to understand how important it is to donate, how helpful it is, and how you’ll feel better about yourself as well.”

That sense of solace was needed, Shawn added.

“It’s a healing process,” she said. “It makes me feel better. People remember her. They followed us from all over the country. It’s going to bring awareness to her and to the micro preemie condition.”