A mother who has been told her unborn baby girl will not survive at birth is carrying her to full term so she can donate heart tissue to help others.
Hayley Martin was told at her 20-week scan that her child has a rare genetic disorder meaning she will die during labour or within minutes of being born.
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning show, Mrs Martin, 30, said they would be able to donate her daughter’s heart valves.
Explaining her decision, she added: “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Already a mother-of-three, Mrs Martin and her husband Scott, from Hull, discovered their baby had bilateral renal agenesis at the five-month scan.
The condition is fatal and means the baby has no kidneys and is not surrounded by enough amniotic fluid, causing malformed lungs.
After speaking to specialist doctors, the couple were given the weekend to consider terminating the pregnancy but Mrs Martin told This Morning her reaction was “automatically, I don’t want to let her go just yet”.
The couple said they had taken the decision to give birth to their daughter, who they have already named Ava-Joy, to help others in need of a transplant.
It is likely that their baby’s heart valves will be used to help other seriously-ill children.
“With the heart valves they can store them up to ten years,” Mrs Martin told the show.
“Anything is better than nothing. I know she can’t donate proper organs but tissue is just as valuable.”
Angie Scales, a NHS organ donation and transplantation nurse, said around 10 to 15 families a year ask about the possibility of donation in relation to their unborn child.
She said: “However, proceeding to actual donation in these cases is extremely rare due to the complexities of the processes that are required.”
Three people a day, including children, die waiting for a transplant, she added.
The couple said the support they had received through a specialist charity in Leeds had helped them bond with their unborn daughter.
The charity funded a blood test to enable them to find out the sex of the baby so they were able to give her a name and buy clothes to dress her once she is born.
The Martins said they were starting a charity project in Ava-Joy’s memory to help other families who decided to carry to term, despite a fatal diagnosis.
“It was not an easy decision but it was the right decision and it has helped me cope with the heartbreak,” said Mrs Martin.
“A part of her will live on, she won’t be completely gone. She will be alive in somebody else.”