Music in memory of baby son who was smiling right until the end
A couple in Preston gypsy folk band Mobius Loop are raising money to professionally record and release their second album in honour of the birth, life and death of their son Gemi, who died last year at the age of just 10 months.AASMA DAY talks to Gemi's parents about the tragedy of losing him, and how he made such a huge impact on their lives in such a short time.
SMILING and waving at nurses only minutes before passing away in his parents’ arms, baby Gemi was a happy and joyous child right until the very end.
His cheerful demeanour didn’t give away the fact he was in such a critical condition, and Gemi lost his fight for life in A&E after doctors valiantly battled to resuscitate him for 30 minutes.
Katie Ryan, 28 and Alex O’Hara, 31, from Preston, are still both numb with disbelief and devastation at losing their beautiful baby boy, and are coping with the tragedy through the way they know best – through the power of music and song writing.
The couple, who have been together for eight years, describe themselves as “singer and songwriter soulmates” and are both in the band Mobius Loop, which is managed by Alex and will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in August.
Katie, who grew up in the Greenlands and Brookfield areas of Preston while Alex grew up in Ashton, Preston, explains: “Alex and I met at the open mic night at the Mad Ferret in Preston.
“Alex was running the open mic with his band Mobius Loop and I used to go to sing my songs with the guitar and do poetry.
“We fell in love and started going out in 2010. We have hardly spent a day apart since we got together and are the best of friends.”
Alex began Mobius Loop on August 8, 2008 (08/08/08) with one of his brothers, Sean, and four friends. Mobius Loop is based on Alex’s song writing and the reason he called the band Mobius Loop is because a giant crop circle was discovered on 08/08/08 in Wiltshire.
Katie says: “One of the things that attracted me to Alex was the poetry of his music. It is very spiritual and he always tries to write about peace, love and the importance of being more loving to each other.”
Katie and Alex studied Experimental Music together at the University of Central Lancashire and both graduated with First Class honours degrees.
While they were at university, Mobius Loop started accompanying Katie’s songs and vice versa and decided to merge. Katie is now part of Mobius Loop as a songwriter together with Alex.
Mobius Loop have written more than 50 songs, released their first album, created sustainable handmade merchandise and performed at many alternative music festivals.
They have also hosted numerous family-friendly music events around the UK, promoting creative expression and celebrating diverse communities.
Katie recalls: “After we finished university, we did a European tour in a caravan and travelled 10 countries. We had a fantastic time and all the countries we went to were very welcoming.”
After returning to the UK, Mobius Loop did a small UK tour for a month and then out of the blue, Katie discovered she was pregnant.
Katie remembers: “Finding out I was pregnant was a shock at first. But once we got our heads around it, we became excited and happy. We started looking for somewhere to live and we could afford and began living in a cottage in Wales in a housing co-op.
“We wanted to have a home birth and Gemi arrived so quickly, we did not have the chance to call the midwife, so me and Alex ended up delivering Gemi together.
“We had Gemi in a community birthing pool and I did not experience any pain giving birth to him as it was such a relaxed experience. It was amazing.
“We filmed the birth and when the midwives did arrive, they asked to watch it and after seeing it, they said that was exactly the way birth should be.”
Gemi Ryan-O’Hara was born on June 17 2016, weighing 7lbs and was healthy and well.
The only thing medics noticed was that Gemi had a slight heart murmur, but Katie and Alex were told this was quite common in babies.
Sadly, when he was just eight-weeks-old, Gemi suffered a collapse and was rushed to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a rare and complex heart condition which typically only presents itself in babies at eight weeks.
Gemi underwent life saving open heart surgery on that same day and was given little chance of survival.
Katie recalls: “It was so traumatic seeing Gemi have to undergo open heart surgery at such a young age.
“He was so tiny and he had so many tubes coming out of him.”
Against all odds, Gemi survived the surgery and after his operation, he was nicknamed a “miracle baby” by surgeons and nurses at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, where he was treated.
Katie says: “Without the amazing doctors and nurses, Gemi would have passed away that day.
“Doctors did tell us that the future for Gemi was uncertain and that it would be a long road ahead as he would need multiple surgeries during his life.”
Katie says: “Alex and I decided to make the most of each day we had with our son, as each day was a miraculous gift and we were so grateful to the amazing NHS staff for saving Gemi’s life.”
As he grew, Gemi began to flourish and was constantly smiling, playing, learning to crawl and singing and playing his little piano.
Gemi flew through all his regular health checks and things were shaping up well for his next surgery.
During this time, Gemi travelled to family festivals where his parents were performing. His grandparents would happily babysit during performances and he would play with other children. Life was looking good for him.
Katie says: “No one would have known Gemi was ill to look at him.
“Gemi was always happy and smiling and brought so much joy to our lives. He was pulling himself up and talking and singing and was such an amazing boy.”
During the winter time, Gemi had a high risk of getting a cold, which would have been life-threatening. So his parents kept him at home and made sure he didn’t come into contact with any viruses.
During this time, Alex and Katie composed around 15 songs that will be featured on their second album.
Tragically, when Gemi was 10-months-old, he suffered another collapse and was rushed to Royal Preston Hospital.
Remembering that day, Katie says: “Gemi had had the best day and was happy and smiling and having fun.
“But that evening, I took him to bed and his breathing was funny and he went stiff and was crying.
“I rang the ambulance. By the time it arrived, Gemi was becoming normal again.
“We were taken to Royal Preston Hospital A&E and they gave him a nebuliser and he perked up.
“I could see Gemi was struggling but because he was such a happy boy, he was smiling and waving at the nurses who had no idea he was in such a critical condition.
“Sadly, Gemi passed away in our arms in A&E.
“Emergency staff tried to resuscitate him for 30 minutes with no success.We were begging them not to stop trying, and they kept trying, but sadly could not save him.”
Gemi passed away on April 25 2017 and it has recently been the first anniversary of his death. Losing Gemi was a huge tragedy for the young family, and they are still recovering and trying to come to terms with it.
Mobius Loop had a full summer of festivals booked and it looked like they would have to cancel everything.
During the early stages of grieving, Alex and Katie received so many inspiring messages from Mobius Loop supporters encouraging them to continue, many saying their music had changed their lives in positive ways.
Alex and Katie decided to continue, and perform each gig in their son’s honour and in honour of everyone who is experiencing grief.
Every song they had written during Gemi’s life became a mantra to heal grieving hearts. They spoke to audiences about their loss and met many others who were also grieving.
Alex and Katie received so much love and support, and felt it was absolutely the right thing for them to do.
Mobius Loop have their busiest summer of festivals booked this year and they now want to honour their son by professionally recording their second album called ‘Gemi’.
Katie explains: “It has been an absolute nightmare losing Gemi and it took ages for it to sink in.
“Our work is as musicians and we did not want to pretend it had never happened. Every gig we did, we told people about our son.
“A lot of our friends did not want to talk to us about Gemi, as they did not want to upset us.
“But we don’t want to stop talking about him.
“Gemi was such an important part of our lives and we never want to forget him.
“Every song on our second album is one we wrote while Gemi was with us.
“We now want to raise £8,000 to professionally record and release the album.People can pre-order the album, or merchandise such as T-shirts.
“The kindness people have shown us is incredible. It is just so sad to have lost Gemi and this is the only thing we can fathom to do.
“Gemi was fantastic and he would have grown up to be an amazing musician.”
l To support Mobius Loop visit: www.mobiusloop.co.uk and click on the “Indiegogo” link at the top their website page. This will lead you to a campaign video and you can browse the different options.