The decision to abort a child is an incredibly hard one to make for some parents. Not only are you thinking about the consequences for you and your partner, but you have to prioritise the consequences on your unborn child. Often, parents are faced with a heartbreaking problem: the likelihood of disability. Thanks to modern technology, pre-natal ultrasounds can predict and diagnose disabilities before the child is born.
For Keri Young and her husband Royce, they found that their second child had anencephaly, a birth defect which is almost always fatal. Anencephaly affects the development of a child’s brain and skull, meaning their child would not survive once born. The couple were faced with a decision that no parent would want to make: should they abort their child?
Keri was pro-life before her pregnancy, making the decision even more difficult. Following the news that their daughter would not survive once out of the womb, the couple considered an early induction of the birth. Instead, they chose to carry on with the pregnancy, and donate the organs of their child to medical research.
Keri and Royce Young didn’t expect to hear that their unborn daughter had a birth defect when visiting the doctors for a pre-natal check-up. At Keri’s 20-week scan, the doctors found that their daughter had anencephaly, a condition which affects three in 10,000 pregnancies. Keri posted to Facebook following the devastating news, and captioned a picture of her ultrasound: “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. […] We found out recently she has anencephaly and is terminal.”
Faced with a difficult decision, Keri and Royce Young chose to keep their unborn child, who they named Eva. Instead of terminating Eva’s life early, the couple decided to keep their child, and donate her organs to medical research after her death.
Keri has documented her struggles on Facebook, including the moment she found out about the possibility of organ donation: “We had an appointment with LifeShare of Oklahoma and our new doctor at Baptist to discuss the possibility of donating her organs […] We learned her whole heart would not be eligible for transplant and that was disappointing. But then we learned her heart valves would be eligible along with her kidneys and liver and maybe pancreas. We could also donate her lungs to research. We’d get the opportunity to meet her recipients if they wanted to meet us. I walked out of that meeting pretty mad and annoyed. Why did they have to sound so hopeful? I wanted them to say it was a bad idea.”
Keri’s husband, Royce, also took to Facebook to share his thoughts on the incredibly difficult decision, as well as Keri’s strength: “In literally the worst moment of her life, finding out her baby was going to die, it took her less than a minute to think of someone else and how her selflessness could help. […] We’re getting closer to the finish line, and while it’s going to be amazing to run through that tape and meet Eva, it comes at a cost. We’ll go to the hospital for a birth, and go home without a baby.”
Very few parents would think to donate their unborn child’s organs to medical research, and I have the utmost respect for Keri and Royce’s decision.