Abbey Ahern is a 34-year-old mother who lives in Cashion, Oklahoma. When she was expecting her third child, doctors discovered at her 19-week scan that her daughter had anencephaly. That meant she would not live beyond a few hours.
Nevertheless, Abbey decided to carry her daughter to term, even though it was the ‘most difficult thing I have ever done’.
Annie lived for just 14 hours and 58 minutes, and she spent them surrounded by her family.
According to the National Institutes of Health, anencephaly means the baby has an underdeveloped brain and incomplete skull. This affects around one in 1,000 pregnancies, most of which result in miscarriage.
Abbey and her pilot husband Robert, also 34, decided to have a live birth so that they could spend time with their daughter. And then, they would donate her organs. This has made Annie the first infant newborn donor in the state.
Abbey said: ‘Carrying a terminally-ill baby to term was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done…
‘For us, even in the midst of our terrible heartbreak we were able to see so much beauty.
The process of donating Annie’s organs has been incredibly healing to me, knowing that my baby has saved lives.’
Then she added: ‘The entire thing felt impossible. If it wasn’t for my husband and our strong support system I believe Annie’s story would have been completely different. Probably much darker.’
Abbey said she was met with some skepticism from family and friends, but nobody tried to put them off their decision.