The grieving family of a stillborn baby girl is taking some comfort in knowing that her short life has helped others.
Eva Grace Young, the daughter of Royce and Keri Young of Oklahoma, was stillborn on April 17. An organ donor, Eva’s eyes recently were donated to help someone who needed them. Her name, Eva, means “giver of life.”
In December, doctors told the Youngs the heartbreaking news that Eva had anencephaly, according to the Daily Mail. Anencephaly is a rare, fatal condition where parts of the baby’s skull and brain do not develop.
Abortion often is presented as an option in such cases, but the Youngs quickly decided that their unborn daughter deserved to live until her natural death.
Royce, who blogged about the tragic experience, said his wife immediately asked her doctor about organ donation and if their baby girl could help save lives after she died.
Here’s more from the report:
[Royce wrote]: ‘So we sat in a doctor’s office, five months before our daughter was set to be born, knowing she would die.’
Yet despite knowing the pain that lay ahead, Keri opted to go ahead with the pregnancy.
‘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. It was a practical approach, with an objective for an already settled ending point.’
Later, he continued, “We’re choosing to try and see the positives in this situation and cherish our time with Eva, and be grateful for the impact she will have on the world in the short amount of time she’ll spend in it.”
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For those who may wrongly accuse the family of thinking of their daughter only for her organs, Royce wrote:
“There were some concerns from the hospital’s ethics team about Eva and our plans. But as I explained to them, and to anyone else out there that has this idea that we grew a daughter just to be killed for her organs, Eva was a terminal child. And as her parents, we elected to make her an organ donor. That’s it.
“She would be born, live an indefinite amount of time, and then we choose to donate her organs because she was under the age of 18.”
The Youngs said they treasured the short time that they had with Eva before she was born. That she could be an organ donor gave them comfort in knowing that her life had meaning.
The Oklahoma family hoped that Eva would be born alive so they could hold her and tell her how much they loved her, but they were in for another huge disappointment.
An ultrasound one day revealed that Eva’s heart had stopped and she had died in the womb, according to the report.
“We looked forward to meeting her and loving her. She was making an impact already, and people from around the world were celebrating her,” Royce wrote. “We knew we’d hurt from her loss, but there was a hope in the difference she was making.”
Because she died in the womb, Eva’s organs also could not be donated – another crushing disappointment for the family.
“We heard from recipients of organ donation that were so encouraging and uplifting. But the deal got altered. The rug was pulled out from underneath us. This was a curveball we couldn’t accept.
Grief-stricken and feeling hopeless, the family held Eva’s tiny body and wept on April 17, the day she was stillborn in an Oklahoma City hospital.
“All of that practical stuff about organ donation was irrelevant to me now. 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,” he continued.
Then, the Youngs received some news that helped to ease their utter disappointment and grief. Eva’s eyes could be donated, and a recipient had been found.
“It wasn’t what we planned or hoped for, but it was everything we needed in that moment. I buried my head in my arms and sobbed harder than I ever have. Keri put her hands over her face and did the same,” Royce recalled.
Though mourning, the Youngs said they have found some comfort in knowing that their little girl’s short life was valuable to them and to others.
“I can’t ever hold my daughter again,” he wrote. I can’t ever talk to her or hear her giggle. But I can dream about looking into her eyes for the first time one day, and finding out what color they are.”