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Parents choose to deliver their terminally ill baby, knowing she will die to save the lives of others

Posted March 9

Hearing your child’s heartbeat on the ultrasound means feeling a lot of things: excitement, happiness and even anxiety about parenthood. But Keri and Royce Young didn’t feel any of these emotions at their ultrasound appointment.

The devastating news

In December 2016, the Youngs found out that their unborn child had terminal anencephaly, meaning her brain was underdeveloped. Keri shared the devastating news with a photo of her 19-week ultrasound: “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.”

It was an emotional appointment for parents Keri and Royce. Royce shared Keri’s first reaction to the news: “somehow through full body ugly crying, Keri looked up and asked, ‘If I carry her full term, can we donate her organs?’"

Whether or not to donate

The couple made an appointment with LifeShare of Oklahoma to discuss an organ donation just 24 hours after finding out about their daughter’s terminal illness, according to CBS News. They hadn’t named their child yet, and Keri said she really didn’t want to at that point.

At the appointment, the Youngs were informed that their baby’s kidneys, heart valves and liver would be eligible for organ donations and her lungs could be donated to research. But they were still debating whether or not to donate.

Keri admitted in a Facebook post that she didn’t want to donate her baby’s organs. She didn’t want to go through with the pregnancy because that meant mourning the loss of their child. It meant they would have to plan a funeral for their baby, she said. “I wanted to throw myself on the ground and kick my legs like a two-year-old and just not do it,” she said.

Royce left the final decision up to Keri, and she chose to carry their child full term. “I made him shake on it. Decision made,” she said.

Their story went viral after Royce shared a photo of his sleeping wife with a heartfelt message about their unborn child. “We made our choice to carry Eva to full term for a lot of reasons,” he said, “but the first and foremost was to donate her organs.”

Another reason, he said, was so that their daughter could have the chance to meet them. That thought gave the Youngs purpose to continue the pregnancy, Royce wrote on Facebook.

Eva’s destiny

“We're not hoping for a miracle,” Keri wrote on Facebook. “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.”

Keri’s due date is May 7, 2017.

You can follow the Youngs on their Facebook page, where they have made all their posts about Eva available to the public.

Shaelynn Miller is a journalist who has a passion for photography, video production and writing.

Contact her at smiller@deseretdigital.com.

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