When Keri Young and her husband, Royce, of New Orleans were told that their baby did not have a brain at their 19-week ultrasound, they broke down in sobs.
And yet, through her tears, Keri’s thoughts moved beyond the heartbreak for her daughter, whom they would later choose to name Eva, and on to how she could honor her baby’s life.
In a devastating and remarkably beautiful post on Facebook, Royce detailed what happened next.
” … 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.”
But knowing the type of woman his wife is, Royce was immediately able to see, and as the doctor would come to realize as well, that Keri meant it. She was 100 percent serious, determined to face the burden of carrying a baby she knew would die, so that another family might have a chance to have their child live.
Standing there at one of the worst moments of his life, Royce also stood witness to the mother of his child’s incredible selflessness.
“I was a spectator to my own life, watching a superhero find her superpowers,” he wrote. “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.”
Royce, a writer for ESPN, penned the long and heartfelt tribute to his wife of eight years to share not only the selfless gift that Keri is offering other families, but to also raise awareness about the plight of families like theirs — and the desperate need for more organ donors.
He shared how going through this journey has opened their family’s eyes to the many incredible children and families on waiting lists for transplants, like an “awesome kid named Jarrius” who needs a liver transplant.
Both Keri and Royce, who are also parents to a 2-year-old son named Harrison, have been open about their journey with Eva since receiving her diagnosis.
Continuously posting public updates on her Facebook page, Keri now says that their primary motivation for carrying to term is their belief that “this is life” and “everyone deserves it” no matter how brief, but it was the thought of organ donation that gave them something to hold onto in the shock of the early days.
Even before her baby’s ultrasound, Keri had described the emotional process she was going through, detailing how she had become familiar with the issue of how some women are faced with the decision to terminate when faced with a terminal diagnosis.
And although her husband paints a strong and unwavering portrait of his wife’s selfless spirit, Keri admits that to her, the decision to carry to term did not come easily.
She wanted nothing more than to not be in this situation, to not be faced with strangers asking her about her belly, to not have to navigate the difficult emotions their family and friends would have, to not have to think about letting her baby live to so quickly die.
In a similar manner, Royce also shared his struggle to come to terms with the reality of the situation.
“I would definitely change this if I could,” he wrote. “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 … “
But in the end, Keri says she knew what she had to do. “Eva will have life even though it will be short,” she wrote. “She’ll donate anything she can and do more in her time on earth than I ever will.”
After meeting with a specialist, the couple learned that Eva’s heart valves, along with her kidneys, liver, and possibly pancreas, are eligible for donation and that her lungs can be donated for research.
Despite making a decision that was best for them, Keri and Royce have a long road ahead of them, and they confess that they still have a lot of fear for what will come.
“Will people look at us differently? Will people judge us for what we’ve decided? Will people think we’re doing a brave and courageous thing even though we feel like we’re 2 inches tall? We are now the ‘thoughts and prayers’ people,” Keri posted on Facebook.
Keri says she is not hoping for a miracle and has accepted the reality of her pregnancy. She will endure the hardships of pregnancy, enter a hospital, and meet the daughter who will die in at most, a few days. But the thought that her daughter could be the answer to another family’s prayer is keeping her going through the hard days.
Royce, in turn, is drawing strength from his wife as he prepares to say goodbye to his little girl.
“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.”