The mum who carried her terminally ill baby to term so she could donate her organs. Sadly baby Eva passed away before her organs could be saved.
When Keri was 37 weeks’ pregnant, she stopped feeling Eva kick. The mum erupted into tears, her whole body shaking.
The couple tried not to panic but went to a nearby hospital in Oklahoma and were told a heartbeat could not be found – just a flicker of cardiac activity.
Royce explained: “They told us to get ready to rush in for a C-Section. I freaked out. I just remember repeating, ‘I’m not ready I’m not ready I’m not ready I’m not ready.'”
Doctors used a better ultrasound machine which confirmed their worst fears.
“There was no heartbeat. Eva was gone before we ever got to meet her. The brain controls steady heart functions, and Eva’s finally gave out.”
The option to donate her organs – the whole purpose which got them through months of agony – had vanished.
Royce explains how Keri put both hands over her face and let out a “raw, visceral sobbing burst” while he stood, silently, shaking his head.
“We had tried to do everything right, tried to think of others, tried to take every possible step to make this work, and it didn’t. No organ donation. Not even for the failsafe, research. We felt cheated.”
A C-section had been planned but, as doctors no longer needed to do it to keep Eva alive, Keri was induced so she could give birth vaginally.
Royce describes the time Keri was in labour as “the darkest, most painful hours of our lives” and even says he felt like they had let people down after building up so much positivity around organ donation.
The worst part? They didn’t get to see their daughter alive – not even for five minutes.
“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.”
Eva Grace Young was born at 12:37 on Monday, April 17. Three minutes later, the doctor received a call from donor organisation LifeShare, who told him they had a recipient for Eva’s eyes.
Royce describes it as ‘the best moment of his life’. He and his wife both cried happy tears. Eva could be a superhero, after all.
“In the time we spent with her, one was always just a little bit open, and I fought the temptation to peek,” Royce said.
“I can’t ever hold my daughter again. 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 colour they are.”
Previously we shared…
“We said hello and goodbye to our sweet Eva yesterday,” Keri captioned a photo of herself, husband Royce Young and their young son, Harrison, on Instagram on Tuesday, April 18.
“She was so perfect in her own little way. I’ll be sharing more about her incredible story later.”
The original story went viral when Love what Matters shared a beautiful post from Royce to his wife as they faced the worst outcome a parent can ever imagine.
Royce Young wrote, “The other night, before I left for New Orleans, I was watching my beautiful wife sleep peacefully on the couch.
I looked at her laying there, her belly big with our daughter kicking away, a daughter that won’t live more than a few days, and it just overwhelmed me of how incredible this woman is. I’m a writer so when I’m feeling something, I tend to have to write it down. So I pulled out my phone and started writing what I was thinking. And I realized tonight sitting a thousand miles away in a hotel room, especially after meeting this awesome kid named Jarrius that’s been everywhere at All-Star Weekend who needs a liver transplant, that instead of just keeping this one for me like I normally do, I should tell everyone else just how incredible Keri Young is. (I also miss her five seconds after I leave the house for a trip so I’m thinking about her all the time anyway.)
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?’ I remember our doctor putting her hand on Keri’s shoulder and saying, ‘Oh honey, that’s so brave of you to say.’ Like, how nice of you, but come on. Keri meant it. There I was, crestfallen and heartbroken, but I momentarily got lifted out of the moment and just stood in awe of her. I was a spectator to my own life, watching a superhero find her superpowers. 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. It’s one of the most powerful things I’ve ever experienced. In the eight years we’ve been married (and 15 years together) I’ve had a lot of moments stop me in my tracks where I thought, ‘holy crap, this woman I’m married to, lucky me.’ But this one was different. It hit me that not only am I married to my very best friend, but to a truly remarkable, special human being.
This whole process has been rough, but I say that as someone watching from the bleachers like the rest of you. Keri has been in the trenches the entire time, feeling every little kick, every hiccup and every roll. She’s reminded every moment of every day that she’s carrying a baby that will die. Her back hurts. Her feet are sore. She’s got all the super fun pregnant stuff going on. But the light at the end of her nine-month tunnel will turn into a darkness she’s never felt before a couple hours or days after Eva is born. She’s the one that is going to deal with all that comes with having a baby– her milk coming in, the recovery process, etc, but with no snuggly, soft, beautiful newborn to look at to remind you that it was all worth it.
We made our choice to carry Eva to full term for a lot of reasons, but the first and foremost was to donate her organs. We don’t say that to try and sound like great people or anything. It was just a practical endgame that in our minds, before we came to the realization Eva is alive and our daughter deserves to meet her mama and daddy, gave us a purpose to continue on. 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. 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.
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.
A lot of people say things like, ‘I wouldn’t change anything’ after a trying circumstance, but I’m not about to say that. I would definitely change this if I could. I want my daughter to be perfect. I want her to blow out her candles on her first birthday. I want to watch her bang her head on our coffee table trying to learn to walk. I want her to run up a cell phone bill texting boys. I want to walk her down an aisle. I want to change it all so, so badly. But I can’t. This is our reality. And there’s no stopping it.
Whenever Harrison gets hurt, or has to pull a bandaid off or something, Keri will ask him, ‘Are you tough? Are you BRAVE?’ And that little boy will nod his head and say, ‘I tough! I brave!’ I’m looking at Keri right now and I don’t even have to ask. 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. 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.”
Last month we shared another touching story of a Mum who made the agonizing decision to proceed with her pregnancy – despite being told her daughter was ‘incompatible with life’. Read that article here.
Thanks to the generosity of 503 deceased organ donors and their families a record 1,447 Australians were given a second chance at life in 2016. Find out how you can register to become a donor here.
We are sending them all our love and strength.
Share your comments below.
Image via Facebook and Instagram