Johanna Morton was 12 weeks pregnant when she went in for an ultrasound anticipating good news, only to find out her baby’s heart was malfunctioning, Catholic Online reports.
“I was 12 weeks gestation when we were told something was wrong with my baby’s heart. I was told she will not survive. ‘You will miscarry.’ I left the office in tears and heart broken,” Morton said on Facebook. “My baby fought her way to 18 weeks as her heart beat slower and slower. With each new appointment seemed to come another diagnosis, another heartbreak and a waterfall of tears.”
Morton’s GoFundMe page elaborates on her daughter’s diagnosis: congenital heart defect (CHD) and heterotaxy syndrome including a full heart block, atrioventricular (AV) canal defect, and valve defects. The prognosis was poor, according to doctors, who did not expect the baby to live past 18-20 weeks gestation.
Congenital heart defects affect nearly 1 in 100 children, according to the John Hopkins Heart & Vascular Institute. Over 75% of babies with critical CHD prenatally will be “terminated for medical reasons,” The Federalist reports. The New York Times recently covered the story of a California mother justifying the late term abortion of her child missing half his heart.
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As in many instances of pediatric heart defects, doctors pressured Morton to abort the child.
“I was told ‘She’s going to be stillborn, Save [sic] yourself the pain,” Morton said on Facebook.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you come back next week, and have her stillborn.’ There was little to no hope for my baby. Even the number #1 children’s hospital, had not seen a heart like hers.”
Yet, Morton opted to give her baby a chance to live.
Baby Clara Ray Morton was born at 37 weeks, and underwent open heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, Catholic Online reported. Clara was able to go home with her family soon after, and has been thriving.
Despite oxygen tubes taped to her face, many photographs circulating Facebook and the internet show Clara’s face smiling in delight as she enjoys the view of the snow falling outside the window.
“This is her seeing her first snowfall,” Morton wrote. “She absolutely loved it. I can’t explain the emotions we felt, as we watched that smile come across her face. Pure. Joy.”