WARNING – UPSETTING CONTENT: Krysta Davis’ daughter Rylei Arcadia was born with anencephaly – a serious birth defect which meant she was born without parts of her brain
A selfless mum gave birth to her dying baby so she could save others by donating her organs.
Krysta Davis, 23, and, Derek Lovett, 26 made the heartbreaking decision to donate in order to give hope to other parents who are waiting for life-saving organs for their own babies.
Brave Krysta, from Cleveland, Tennessee, was 18 weeks pregnant when she was told her daughter, Rylei Arcadia, had anencephaly – a serious birth defect which meant she was born without parts of her brain.
Doctors told the couple they could induce labour immediately or Krysta could carry to term knowing their daughter could die in the womb, and at best after delivery live for moments or days.
Knowing their time was limited, they savoured every moment of the pregnancy from discovering her favourite bands to relishing every kick.
And on Christmas Eve, Rylei was born weighing six pounds and miraculously survived a week before passing away on New Year’s Eve in the arms of her parents.
Her short life helped save two other babies after her heart valves were donated, while her lungs went to a research foundation in desperate need of organs.
Krysta, an assistant manager, said: “Carrying her to full term would mean we had the option to donate her organs so that other mothers could bring home their babies when we couldn’t.
“That sealed the deal for us, for the entire pregnancy the majority of our strength came from her, it was very positive, and we did everything we could like most parents do.
“We found out her favourite band was Fleetwood Mac and did a lot of normal parent things, but we also had an extra ounce to cherish that little more.
“I knew I had to be happy throughout the entire pregnancy for her, there was no point putting myself or her through that when we had such limited time together.
“It was amazing feeling her kick, I didn’t know if she would move around at all but we found out, as she moved a lot.
“As we got further along into the pregnancy she moved more and more, I could watch her little feet move across my belly.
“I had nine months to carry her and fall in love but it was nothing compared to holding her and seeing her, I couldn’t see anything wrong with her when she was born, I was in love.
“It was really hard as we never knew how much time we were going to have with her.
“After she passed, the surgeon came in and told he us he had not met a family like us in 12 years.
“It felt wonderful knowing that because of her two other kids get to go home, that touched us the most.
“Every time I look at the reminders of her, I treasure the moments, I still get a couple of tears coming down they are perfect moments.
As hard as it is to give away those organs as it is your child, it makes a huge difference to others’ lives who wouldn’t have a second chance.”
This was not the first pregnancy tragedy to befall the couple, as they sadly miscarried in September 2017 due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
While carrying Rylei it was discovered she would be born with serious defects at 18 weeks following a quad screening – with the hope of organ donation leading them to choose not to end the pregnancy.
The parents believe they made the right decision for their daughter and had their cherished time captured by photographer Clarissa Tilley and videographer Autumn Cleak
Krysta said: “We were told there was a good chance she may not make it out alive on her own and if she did she may not survive the cord being cutting as she was living off me.
“It really stemmed from the love we have for her, no matter what the outcome we would carry her to term.”
During the delivery, another complication arose with Rylei emerging facing the wrong way, despite this difficulty it meant the mum could see her daughter.
Photographer Clarissa Tilley, 27, photographed her short life spending 50 hours during the little girl’s week of life.
Her favourite images showcase the raw emotion when a tearful Krysta sees Rylei for the first time and then the last time the nurse checked her heart rate before putting a monitor on her.
Additionally, photographer Autumn Cleek filmed some of Rylei’s final moments to help immortalise the couple’s time with their daughter.
Clarissa who offers this service to parents saying goodbye free of charge, said: “I’m a mother myself so to experience that hit me on a deeper level, it could happen to anybody and the thought of that is heart breaking.
“I treated her how I would want to be treated in that situation when Rylei was born I fell in love too, it was emotional, I fell in love with them all.
“Rylei was absolutely beautiful, she had her brain exposed but Krysta didn’t see disability or her conditions, she saw her daughter and the pure love shone from her.
“The nurse checking her heart was the start of Rylei surprising us even more.
“All the nurses and organ donation team were in there for 45 minutes, sitting there waiting to call time of death and it never happened.
“It brings me to tears every time I look at the images, I wasn’t really in photographer mode, they mean a lot to Krysta and me. I will keep them for the rest of my life.”