(Davis and Lovett enjoy a cuddle with their newborn daughter. Rylei. Photo Credit: Clarissa Tilley)
On Christmas Eve, Krysta Davis, 23, and, Derek Lovett, 26, from Cleveland, Tennessee, welcomed their daughter Rylei Arcadia into the world. She weighed just six pounds and went on to live for a shocking full week. You see, Rylei was diagnosed with anencephaly (a birth defect that stops vital parts of the brain from forming) when she was just 18 weeks old. However, despite the option of aborting her, David and Lovett chose life for their daughter and in doing so, Rylei was able to give two other babies a chance at life, after her heart and lungs were donated.
Her mother 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 favorite 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.”1
Even though the couple was warned that their daughter might not survive her birth, they still believe they made the right choice. Davis said, “It really stemmed from the love we have for her, no matter what the outcome we would carry her to term.”2
Photographer Clarissa Tilley, 27, was on hand to photograph Rylei’s short life and offers the service to parents in this situation, free of charge. She said her favorite images showcase the real and raw emotion that happened the first time Krysta saw Rylei.
We cannot imagine the pain the couple are going through but are also so thankful their love was able to provide life for two other children. Check out the video below about another couple who chose life for their child with anencephaly.