LITTLE Annie only lived for 14 hours but she has created a lasting legacy for her own family, and those of complete strangers.
At 19 weeks’ pregnant with their third child, Abbey and Robert Ahern, of Oklahoma, tragically heard the news that their unborn child was “incompatible with life” at a routine ultrasound.
The baby had anencephaly, a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. There is no cure or treatment, and almost all babies with the defect die shortly after birth.
“It just sucked the air right out of my lungs. I knew what he was saying, but I couldn’t really apply it to us or to our baby,” said Abbey.
While the couple were completely devastated, in that moment they quickly found a name for their third daughter; Annie, which means, ‘Grace’.
“I am fortunate enough to have an incredibly selfless and supportive husband and two healthy and vibrant daughters to hug when I couldn’t stop sobbing. I was also fortunate that doctors also told us Annie was unlikely to be in any pain.”
After the news of Annie’s diagnosis, Abbey and Robert went to their obstetrician to discuss options.
“We knew she had a purpose — even though she was not made for this world,” Abbey says. “We wanted a few precious memories with our girl. No one tried to change our minds.”
The couple asked the doctors about the opportunity to donate the organs.
A team of necessary specialists was soon put together to prepare for the small window of organ donation following a planned cesarean section. The baby was born via Caearean Section.
“She didn’t cry much, but I heard her making noise. They showed her to me, and she was so beautiful,” Abbey says.
Organ donation was arranged within hours and they were able to donate Annie’s heart valves for recipients and many of her organs for research purposes. Annie’s donations also paved the way for other infants to donate organs.
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