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Youth pastor's 2-year-old son dies suddenly after brain mass found, community rallies

Chairty, Josh and Alec Birkey. (Courtesy the Birkey family)

The community is rallying behind a youth pastor and his wife whose 2-year-old boy died suddenly after a brain mass was found.

Young Alec Birkey passed away on Thursday, just a week after coming down with a fever. But that illness lead to the discovery of a brain mass, and Alec’s tragic death.

Alec’s father, Josh Birkey, a youth pastor at Metro Baptist Church in Goodlettsville, said the toddler first came down with a fever and other symptoms on Jan, 11. Doctors said that they believed he had a virus, but the fever stayed until Wednesday morning when Alec woke up at 4:30 a.m., vomiting and having seizures.

Paramedics rushed him to TriStar Medical Center in Hendersonville, where doctors thought he might have the flu and he was unresponsive, Josh said. Alec was given medicine to bring the fever down before he was transferred to the children’s hospital at Vanderbilt. That’s when Josh said a CT scan was done and doctors found a mass on Alec’s brain.

“The doctors at Vanderbilt did as much as they could, but after 24 hours of tests and procedures, there was nothing more they could do,” Josh told FOX 17 News.

Josh said the doctors told the family they couldn’t find a medical reason why, or how, Alec got the mass on his brain, but they said his death wasn’t caused by the flu.

Alec passed away at 5:13 p.m. on Thursday evening.

Since then, Josh said the family has received overwhelming support from both the community and church family.

Josh and Charity Birkey moved to White House, Tenn. six months ago from Knoxville. Even in a short time, Josh said Alec left lasting impressions on everyone he came into contact with. He’ll be remembered as a boy who always smiled, even when he was in the hospital bed.

“We are blessed and thankful for the time God gave him to be with us,” Josh said. “He was a precious baby and we loved him very much. We are comforted by the fact that we know he is in Heaven with God.”

A few pastors who Josh has worked with are paying for funeral expenses, while the community has also pitched in to help Josh and his family through this difficult time. A GoFundMe account has also been set up in honor of Alec. Josh says the family doesn’t know exactly where the money will go, possibly to research or charity, but he is overwhelmed by the support from the community, and strangers alike.

The exact cause of Alec’s death has not yet been determined. Josh said before this past week, Alec had been a healthy child and was never sick.

“Alec was a special kid during a special time, and the little time he was here, he touched many lives,” Josh said.

A public visitation for Alec is being held at Metro Baptist Church from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, followed by a service. He will be laid to rest on Thursday in a private graveside service.

Amid mourning the loss of their son, the Birkeys are also expecting a baby girl in April.

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