US couple to continue full-term pregnancy so they can donate daughter's organs

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A woman holds her stomach at the last stages of her pregnancy in Bordeaux April 28, 2010.
A woman holds her stomach at the last stages of her pregnancy in Bordeaux April 28, 2010. Reuters/Regis Duvignau

Royce and Keri Young,  a couple from Oklahoma City in the United States, have posted several posts on Facebook since December 2016, sharing their decision on donating the organs of their soon-to-be-born daughter diagnosed by anencephaly. They named their daughter Eva, who is expected to be born on May 7.

On Feb. 18, Royce, an NBA writer for ESPN, posted another message on Facebook to give tribute to his wife. Young's post showed a deeper meaning of unconditional love, generosity, hope and sacrifice.

Royce and Keri live in Oklahoma City. Keri is pregnant with a daughter. But the couple found out that their daughter has anencephaly and is terminal. The couple came up with a very tough decision to continue the pregnancy to full term in a bid to give life to multiple people through organ donation.

Anencephaly is a serious medical condition characterised by malformation with congenital partial or complete absence of space in the skull. There is also an absence of brain, skull and scalp.

Royce wrote, "I thought back to the moment where we found out Eva wasn't perfect, and how literally 30 seconds after our doctor told us our baby doesn't have a brain, somehow through full body ugly crying, Keri looked up and asked, 'If I carry her full term, can we donate her organs?' ... There I was, crestfallen and heartbroken, but I momentarily got lifted out of the moment and just stood in awe of her." 

Royce said that it only took her less than a minute for her wife to think of someone else. He said that it was one of the most powerful things he experienced. He shared that for eight years of being married to Keri, it hit him that he was not only married to his best friend, but to a "truly remarkable, special human being."

Hoping for a miracle

Royce said that the whole process has been rough. He saw how Keri cope up as she carried their daughter. She would carry Eva for nine months, but each day she would be reminded that "she is carrying a baby that will die." They made a choice to continue carrying Eva for many reasons.

He said that Eva deserved to meet her mum and dad. "Donating was on Keri's mind from darn near the second we found out and while the experience of holding and kissing our daughter will be something we cherish forever, the gift(s) she's got inside that little body of hers is what really matters," Royce said. 

"Keri saw that almost instantly. That kid Jarrius wears a shirt that says 'It Takes Lives To Save Lives.' I couldn't stop thinking about that all day. There's another family out there hurting and hoping for a miracle for their baby, knowing full well someone else's baby will need to die first. Eva can be that miracle," Royce wrote.

Closer to the finish line

Royce said that as they were nearing the finish line, they knew it would come with a cost. They would go to the hospital for birth but would go home without a baby. He said that if he could he would definitely change things. He would want his daughter to be perfect, blow her candles on her first birthday, watch her bang her head on their coffee table as she learns to walk and also run up a mobile phone bill texting boys. He also wanted to walk Eva down the aisle, but he knew that they couldn't change and stop the reality.

A perfect heart

He described her admiration for his wife, saying that his wife was tough and brave. He said that she was incredible and remarkable. "She's cut from a different cloth, combining wit, beauty, courage, silliness, character and integrity into one spectacular woman. And somehow, she's my wife," he proudly wrote. He said that he didn't need a situation like they have at the moment to see that in her wife and he wanted to tell everyone else about it.

In another FB post, Keri wrote, “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.” Eva is expected to be born on May 7. She may not have a perfect brain like what Keri said, but the child has a perfect heart like her parents. The name "Eva" has a Hebrew meaning "life" or "living one" and  "full of life" or "mother of life."