OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma father recently wrote a tear-jerking article about the death of his newborn daughter.
Along with the picture, Young, who is a writer for ESPN, described the heartbreaking moment the couple found out that their daughter didn’t have a brain and his wife’s immediate selfless reaction.
“There I was, crestfallen and heartbroken, but I momentarily got lifted out of the moment and just stood in awe of her,” Royce Young wrote on Facebook on Feb. 17. “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.
Keri Young wanted to carry her daughter, Eva, to term to donate her organs and give other babies a chance to live.
Young’s post about his wife quickly went viral, receiving more than 24,000 shares and 63,000 interactions on Facebook.
On April 17, Keri gave birth to Eva.
“We said hello and goodbye to our sweet Eva yesterday. She was so perfect in her own little way,” Keri posted on Facebook.
Royce Young shared a photo of him holding Eva with a similar caption.
“We said hello and goodbye to our sweet Eva Grace yesterday,” he posted.
Royce recently wrote an article, describing what happened the day they met Eva.
“We spent months bracing and preparing for the death of our daughter. But guess what? We weren’t ready,” Royce titled the article.
After their daughter was diagnosed with anencephaly, the Young family developed a plan.
“The mission was simple: Get Eva to full-term, welcome her into this world to die, and let her give the gift of life to some other hurting family,” Royce wrote.
The couple met with an organ procurement organization called LifeShare to discuss the possibility of donating Eva’s kidneys, liver, pancreas and heart valves.
“We asked about other things, like her eyes or corneas, but LifeShare told us they’d never done that before, even with an adult,” the father wrote.
Royce said his wife continued to feel Eva kick and move around inside of her.
The couple found joy in knowing Eva had a purpose.
“What we unexpectedly found, though, was joy in the pregnancy. We happily talked about our sweet Eva, and day by day our love for her grew. We got excited to be her parents. I think a big part of that was connected to the decision we made to continue on, which was empowering. She had a name, an identity, and a purpose.”
Doctors told the couple that if Eva’s organs weren’t able to be transplanted, they would go to research.
Although Royce said he understood research is valuable, he wanted a tangible outcome.
“I wanted to be able to meet and hug and shake the hand of the person my daughter saved,” he wrote.
At 37 weeks pregnant, Royce said Keri felt like something was wrong.
She couldn’t feel Eva move.
The couple rushed to the hospital where they learned Eva’s heart was no longer beating.
“Keri and I had seen enough ultrasounds to immediately know. There was no heartbeat. Eva was gone before we ever got to meet her,” Royce wrote.
This meant there would be no organ donation or even research, Royce said.
The father described the time as the “most painful hours of our lives.”
“Not that grief needs to be ranked, but compared to even when we found out Eva’s diagnosis, this was so much worse. We had come to terms with the outcome, and had almost found a joy in the purpose of our daughter’s life. We looked forward to meeting her and loving her. She was making an impact already, and people from around the world were celebrating her. We knew we’d hurt from her loss, but there was a hope in the difference she was making. We heard from recipients of organ donation that were so encouraging and uplifting. But the deal got altered. The rug was pulled out from underneath us. This was a curveball we couldn’t accept.”
Royce said the most painful realization of all is that he and his wife wouldn’t get to see their daughter alive.
“I longed for just five minutes with her, heck, five seconds with her. All of that practical stuff about organ donation was irrelevant to me now. 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.”
After Eva was born, the Youngs received some wonderful news: LifeShare found a recipient for Eva’s eyes.
“It’s a weird thing to say that in probably the worst experience of my life was also maybe the best moment of my life, but I think it was the best moment of my life. The timing of it all is just something I can’t explain. It wasn’t what we planned or hoped for, but it was everything we needed in that moment. I buried my head in my arms and sobbed harder than I ever have. Keri put her hands over her face and did the same. Happy tears.”
The nurses cleaned Eva up and handed her to her parents.
“As they handed her to us for the first time, much of the dread and fear was lifted off us, and replaced with some hope and joy again,” Royce wrote. “Here comes Eva Grace Young, the superhero she was always meant to be.”
Royce said that although Eva isn’t able to save a life, she still gets to change one.
“We always knew organ transplant was only just a chance anyway, and a slim one at that. But we wanted to take it. Someone’s life is worth the chance. In some ways, though, I’m more excited about her eyes being her living legacy. I keep thinking about looking into them some day, but more than anything, about her eyes seeing her mom, dad and brother.”