An American mother says she has decided to carry her terminally-ill baby daughter to full term – knowing the child will live only a few hours – so that her organs can be donated to those who need them.
Keri Young and her husband Royce went for an ultra-sound scan at 19 weeks to find out their baby’s sex but were devastated to learn that the child had a terminal condition known as anencephaly.
The baby, who they named Eva, will be born without a fully-developed brain and is expected to die within hours of her birth.
Mr and Mrs Young weighed whether to induce an early pregnancy and move on with their lives but decided instead to take the pregnancy to full-term so that the child’s organs could be donated.
“This is our daughter’s perfect heart. She has perfect feet and perfect hands. She has perfect kidneys, perfect lungs and a perfect liver. Sadly, she doesn’t have a perfect brain,” Mrs Young wrote on Facebook.
“We found out recently she has anencephaly and is terminal. Faced with terrible options we have decided to continue the pregnancy to full term so Eva, which literally means life, can grow strong and give life to multiple people through organ donation.
“This was not an easy decision. For the next 20 weeks I will feel her kick, have the hiccups and we’ll be able to hear her perfect heart beating all while knowing we’ll only get a few short hours with her when she’s born.”
Doctors told the couple that the baby’s heart valves could be donated to someone who needed them, along with her kidneys, liver and possibly her pancreas. Her lungs could also be donated for scientific research.
In a series of Facebook posts, Mrs Young describes how she and her husband wrestled with the decision.
“The reality of feeling her kick for 20 weeks was very much settling in. Strangers excitedly asking me about my stomach and friends not knowing how to treat us was devastating to think about,” Mrs Young wrote.
After discussions with their pastor, the pair decided that Eva’s short life could save many others and they committed to carrying through.
“I made him shake on it. Decision made. We were continuing on with the pregnancy. Eva will have life even though it will be short. She’ll donate anything she can and do more in her time on earth than I ever will,” Mrs Young wrote.
The baby is due on May 7.
Mrs Young wrote: “This is not over for us. We’ll almost assuredly have doubts on if we’re actually doing the right thing. Or if we can even handle this. May 7th is far away. Please continue to think and pray for us.”