A father whose wife carried their terminally ill baby to full term to donate her organs has shared their courageous story.
In an article published on Medium, titled, We spent months bracing and preparing for the death of our daughter. But guess what? We weren’t ready, Royce Young writes about knowing his daughter would die five months before she was born.
“In our case, our daughter was diagnosed with a rare birth defect called anencephaly,” he said in the article.
“The options weren’t great. There was a) inducing early, which in effect was terminating the pregnancy or b) continuing the pregnancy to full-term,” he writes.
Keri Young and her husband, Royce made headlines around the world in December when they announced on Facebook that rather than terminate the pregnancy, the Oklahoma couple decided that Keri would give birth so she could donate Eva’s organs after she died.
Naming their daughter Eva, which means, “giver of life”, Royce says, “The mission was simple: Get Eva to full-term, welcome her into this world to die, and let her give the gift of life to some other hurting family.”
While Keri feared the inevitable questions about the “due date, or if the nursery was ready," there was also joy to be experienced through pregnancy.
“We happily talked about our sweet Eva, and day by day our love for her grew. We got excited to be her parents.
“She had a name, an identity, and a purpose.”
On Sunday, April 16, Keri was 37 weeks. “Keri didn’t feel Eva move much that morning, but we both brushed it off and went to lunch," said Royce.
“We came home, put Harrison down for a nap, and Keri sat down in her favourite spot and prodded Eva to move. She wouldn’t.”
At the hospital, medical staff tried to find a heartbeat.
“There was no heartbeat. Eva was gone before we ever got to meet her. The brain controls steady heart functions, and Eva’s finally gave out,” said Royce.
We had tried to do everything right, tried to think of others, tried to take every possible step to make this work, and it didn’t. No organ donation.
“What a total rip-off. The word I still have circling in my head is disappointment.”
As there wasn’t going to be an organ donation, Keri was induced. Royce describes Sunday and Monday as “the darkest, most painful hours of our lives.”
“I just wanted to hold my baby girl and see her chest move up and down. I just wanted to be her daddy, if only for a few seconds.”
At 12:37, Eva Grace Young was born. At 1241, Royce received a message with some good news.
“I’m on the phone with LifeShare,” their doctor said. “They have a recipient for Eva’s eyes.”
“The timing of it all is just something I can’t explain. It wasn’t what we planned or hoped for, but it was everything we needed in that moment.”
While Eva is gone, Royce says he "dreams about looking into her eyes for the first time one day, and finding out what colour they are."
This article originally appeared on Practical Parenting.