When Keri Young was told that her soon-to-be-born child wouldn’t survive because her baby had anencephaly, she looked at the situation right into its face. She made a very brave decision to carry her baby full term despite knowing that her baby would be born with no parts of the skull and brain. She even went a step ahead from carrying her pregnancy throughout to donate the organs of her newborn so she could save the life of another child.
It was the 19-week ultrasound when Keri found out about her baby’s condition called anencephaly, which affects around 1,206 pregnancies annually in the U.S alone (1).
According to the CDC, about three in 10,000 pregnancies result in anencephaly every year in the U.S. It is a serious neural tube birth defect or NTD. When neural tubes forms and closes, it aids in the formation of the baby’s the skull, brain, spinal cord, and back bones. In case of anencephaly, the upper part of the neural tube does not close at all. Therefore, the baby is born with no forebrain and cerebrum, which is the coordinating and thinking region of the brain. The remaining brain parts are often uncovered by skin or bone.
The first few hours were the hardest on Keri and her husband. The couple lost their sleep and cried to exhaustion. Keri could not eat, but when she finally ate she couldn’t keep calm.
Despite the tragic pregnancy, Keri saw the positive side to it because her baby will be donating all that she can and do more than her mother can in her lifetime.
It was a mutual decision by her and her husband, Royce, that their child Eva will be born, even though she would have a very short life. They didn’t expect a miracle, but they strongly believed that parents elsewhere might desperately need a miracle to save their child’s life when one of its vital organs is failing.
Keri took to Facebook to tell about her pregnancy condition and her decision to keep it.
Royce, a writer for ESPN, wrote an emotional letter to his wife about how brave her decision was. The letter has been shared over 12,000 times on Facebook.
Royce wrote how 30 seconds after their doctor told them that their baby doesn’t have a brain, Keri gathered herself together and asked if they could donate the baby’s organs. The doctor appreciated Keri’s decision and congratulated her for her bravery, but Royce was heartbroken. At the same time, he couldn’t fathom how selfless Keri was and how the experience had shaken him. He further added that he had become a spectator to the event that was going to turn into darkness in nine months, perhaps a couple of hours or days after their daughter Eva is born. But it will be Keri who would have to deal with the going through the process of motherhood and dealing with the absence of Eva.
Royce also admitted that he wished the situation could change so he could see his daughter blow out the candles on her first birthday, watch her beat her head on their coffee table as she learns to walk, and run up the cell phone bill for texting boys.
Royce has however given into the reality of the situation.