Pregnant Keri Young has been documenting her unborn daughter’s progress on Facebook, recently posting a 4-D ultrasound of the baby, who she and her husband, Royce Young, have named Eva.
“It was so, so amazing. She has chubby cheeks and long fingers and toes,” she wrote of the baby, due May 7. “Everything is still measuring as it should and seeing her today made us more excited than ever to hold her.”
But Keri and her husband, an NBA writer for ESPN, will only be able to hold their child for a few hours.
The Oklahoma City couple, who are already parents of a young son, Harrison, found out at their 19-week ultrasound late last year that the girl she was carrying had anencephaly (when parts of the skull and brain do not develop properly) and will die shortly after birth. But instead of terminating the pregnancy, the pair decided to carry the baby to term so they can donate her organs after she dies.
Keri Young revealed the diagnosis and their decision in an emotional Facebook post on December 13 that made their story go viral.
“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. 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.”
Keri Young, who is Christian and pro-life, admits that making the decision to carry the baby to term was not easy, but ultimately the couple, after meeting with their pastor, decided that it was the right thing to do.
“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,” Keri Young wrote on Facebook in December, explaining that ultimately the decision was not so much about religion but the need to do the right thing to help others. “We’re not hoping for a miracle. We know she will not live. But someone else is desperately hoping for a miracle. Their kidneys are failing them. Their liver has betrayed them. They deserve life, and they’re probably praying for it. Eva can be their answer to it.”
The couple, who recently met with organ donation representatives from LifeShare, said they have lined up a photographer to take photos of Eva after she is born.
“We have no idea how long she’ll live. Minutes? Hours? A day or maybe even two? We’ll take whatever we’re given and be grateful for that time,” Keri Young wrote.
Keri’s husband of eight years says he has been in awe of his wife’s strength and selflessness. “She’s TOUGH. She’s BRAVE. She’s incredible. She’s 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 wrote in a long Facebook tribute to her last month. “Not that I needed some awful situation like this to actually see all of that, but what it did was make me want to tell everyone else about it.”
While the couple are hopeful their loss will give life to another family’s child, Royce said as the due date approaches, “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.”
The couple have been incredibly open about their plight and decision Facebook, and there has been an outpouring of support on their candid posts.
“We lost a 27-year-old son recently and donated organs,” wrote one mom. “There is some sense of peace from the chaos.” Another shared her story of losing a son to the same condition two years before. “I pray you get some time with Eva. But no matter what, she knows she is loved. It wasn’t and isn’t easy, but so worth it. Praying for you in the months and years ahead.”
For now the couple are trying to live life as normally as they can, goofing around with Harrison and posting videos of family time (and Keri’s growing baby bump) on Facebook. “Thanks to everyone for being so incredibly nice to us during all this,” Keri Young wrote recently. “You’ll never know the impact you’ve had on us.”
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