74-Minute-Old Baby Girl Becomes U.K.'s Youngest Organ Donor: 'It Instantly Took Some of the Pain Away,' Her Mom Says
A British woman who knew her baby girl would only live for a few hours after birth chose to carry the child to term so that the infant’s organs could save lives.
Newborn Hope Lee lived 74 minutes before dying in her mother’s arms at a hospital in Cambridge last week. Her kidney and liver cells were then donated.
Hope’s mother, Emma Lee, 32, was 13 weeks pregnant when she learned that one of her twins had anencephaly, a birth defect that causes an underdeveloped brain and an incomplete skull.
Emma and her husband Drew Lee, 51, were given the option to abort, but they decided to go through with the pregnancy and donate the baby’s organs.
“It’s quite a hard decision to make,” Emma told the Cambridge News. “But as we had known for so long, we just felt it was right…We’re proud she’s achieved a lot in her short life.”
The couple said they were inspired by the story of Teddy Houlston (born April 2014), an infant who became Britain’s then youngest organ donor after living for just 100 minutes. Houlston suffered from the same condition as Hope and his heart valve and kidneys were donated.
“Before I was pregnant, I read about Teddy in the paper, and my only thought was his parents were so brave,” Emma told the Daily Mirror. “I never expected that I would end up in exactly the same position. When we found out Hope wouldn t survive, knowing Teddy’s story made me confident doctors could do the same thing.”
Hope’s kidneys were transplanted into an adult patient and cells from her liver were frozen. The healthy cells will help as many as five adult patients live long enough to undergo liver transplants.
“When we heard the transplant had taken place, it instantly took some of the pain away,” Emma told the Mirror. “I would like to speak to that person in the future, a part of Hope is living on inside them.”
Hope’s twin brother Josh was delivered without complication two minutes after his sister.