British baby Teddy Houlston, who passed away less than two hours after his birth, has become the United Kingdom's youngest organ donor after his kidneys and heart valves were used to save the life of another person.
A serious birth defect
When a pregnant Jess Evans and her fiancé Mike Houlston from Wales learned that one of their unborn twins had a fatal abnormality, they were devastated. Just twelve weeks into the pregnancy they were given the heart-breaking news that one of their babies was suffering from anencephaly, a serious birth defect in which part of the brain and skull fails to develop, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jess and Mike were offered the option of an abortion, according to BBC news, but decided against it as they believed spending even just a few minutes with their son would be the most valuable experience that they could imagine. They also agreed that donating baby Teddy's organs and possibly saving another life would be the best way to honour their son.
Teddy was born shortly after his twin brother Noah on 22 April 2014 and lived for only 100 minutes. The Mirror writes that doctors immediately performed surgery to remove Teddy's organs.
Initially, doctors were unsure whether the organs of such a young child could be successfully transplanted, according to the Independent. Eventually a solution was found and Teddy's organs were transplanted into a man from Leeds, who was suffering from kidney failure. The recipient now has four kidneys inside his body.
The transplant meant that Teddy was the United Kingdom's youngest ever organ donor. The previous youngest donor was a five day old baby girl whose identity is not publicly known.
Read: Could specialised foetal surgery minimise birth defects?
Anencephaly usually occurs during the first month of pregnancy, often before the mother even realises she is pregnant. Babies born with this defect are often missing critical areas of the brain such as the cerebrum and forebrain. What areas of the brain do exist, often aren't protected by either bone or skin.
Babies born with anencephaly have a poor prognosis and are usually stillborn or survive for a few days at most, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke indicates.
While Jess and Mike have said that nothing could have prepared them for such sadness, they are both immensely proud of Teddy for saving the life of another man and both refer to him as a hero. They have also set up a Twitter profile in Teddy's name, aimed at spreading greater awareness for organ donation.
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Image: One cute newborn little baby in mother's hands from Shutterstock