Turning heartbreaking moment into a positive event is probably one of the most difficult thing to do, especially if you’re a parent and it includes the life of your child.
This is what Jess Evans and Mike Houlston had to make for their newborn baby. Though it’s heartbreaking they decided to donate their dying baby boy’s organs to help save a life. And he would turned out to be the youngest organ donor…who lived and died a hero.
During Jess 12 weeks pregnancy, a terrible news shocked the couple. One of the twins in her womb is dreadfully ill, he could only live for at least a day or two.
One of their baby suffered a rare fatal condition called anencephaly during the early stage of development in his mother’s womb. Anencephaly is a condition that prevents the normal development of the brain and the bones of the skull. Almost all the babies with this condition die before birth or within a few hours or days after birth.
Jess and Mike were told the baby would either be stillborn or die afterwards. Jess described the moment “soul destroying” thinking that one of her twins will not survive before or after birth. The only time they were able to accept the truth is when she undergoes 4D scan. She said, “We could see, in a very detailed picture on a TV screen, the fact that his skull hadn’t formed properly.”
Many times the couple were given an option to abort Teddy but Jess and Mike never ever considered that hideous thing. “We thought that even if we had a moment with him, or 10 minutes, or an hour, that time was the most precious thing that we would ever experience” said Jess.
The couple continued with the pregnancy but hoped that their baby’s life would not be in vain.
So despite the heartbreaking hammer blow, Jess and Mike’s thoughts turned to helping others as they battle with the tragedy. They decided to donate his organs, in hope to help someone in need of a transplant. They make sure Teddy (the name they gave to the baby) would qualify as an organ donor.
According to Jess, “Organ donation was something I’ve always felt quite strongly about ever since I was a child.”
On April 22 2014, Jess gave birth to Noah, and shortly after, Teddy. It seems like the time froze for the couple, they cherish every moment, every second of Teddy’s life in this world…a day of both heartbreak and hope.
Mike remembered: “The first time I saw him, I can remember thinking to myself: ‘He’s beautiful, he’s beautiful’. He had big hands.”
“IT HELPS US SO MUCH TO KNOW HE HAS HELPED SOMEONE ELSE AND HELPED DOCTORS REALIZE DONATION FROM SMALL BABIES IS POSSIBLE AND IS SOMETHING PEOPLE LIKE US WANT TO MAKE HAPPEN.” – JESS
The boy lived a meaningful 100 minutes of his tiny life and finally rested in the hands of God. Though nothing could ease his parents’ deep sorrow they felt that very moment, Teddy’s death was deemed to give new hope to others.
Three minutes after Teddy died, he went straight for surgery to donate his 3.8cm kidneys and his heart valves. Teddy’s organs save the life of an adult stranger with renal failure, which his parents had been in constant communication.
The little angel officially became the youngest organ donor in Britain where the previous was a five-day-old baby girl, who was never publicly identified.
Teddy’s story is a source of pride, Mike and Jess taught the world how they come to terms with their loss and gave it a new meaning.
They said, “We hope Teddy’s story will inspire families who find themselves in the position of losing a child. Knowing part of your loved one is living on in someone else is comforting.”
Mike, 30, said: “He lived and died a hero. It’s impossible to explain how proud we are of him.”
Jess, 28, added: “Although he wasn’t with us very long, and we brought him into the world knowing there was no hope of a life for him, we are incredibly proud of his heroism.”
Dr Paul Murphy, of NHS Blood and Transplant, described Teddy’s gift of life as a “milestone moment” as it is absolutely rare for newborn to be considered as organ donors. He added, “Every donation is inspirational. It is a selfless act of heroism. But Teddy’s story is exceptional. He was the youngest organ donor in the UK.”
The story of Teddy’s generosity has triggered changes to NHS policy, which make babies who die early will be easier to be a donor. Dr Murphy said: “These are magnificent achievements. But Teddy’s legacy must go far beyond this.”
Thousands of people are on the organ waiting list and three people died everyday waiting for a donor. Amazingly the problem is not about the low registry of donors, it’s the families who refuse to allow the process even if their loved ones are registered donors.
Dr Murphy hopes Teddy’s story will spark “a revolution in public attitudes” and bring an end to this “senseless waste of life”. He also added, “In handing their baby over to the transplant team, Mike and Jess did so with love and hope and an absolute conviction that they were doing the right thing.”
“In telling Teddy’s story, they demand that everyone, young and old, follows their example.”