GAINESVILLE, Virginia, July 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An unborn baby with Down syndrome slated for abortion may yet live, thanks to the effort of a Catholic priest who reached out to the baby’s parents with a desperate last-minute offer. 

Deliver the baby, Father Thomas Vander Woude told the young couple, and he would find an adoptive family. 

The couple gave the priest only one day to act, since the baby’s mother was in her sixth month of pregnancy and reportedly lives in a state where abortion past 24 weeks is prohibited.

What happened next in a culture that aborts as many as 90 percent of babies with Down syndrome can only be described as an astounding outpouring of love and compassion.

Father Vander Woude sent out an urgent plea through his parish’s Facebook page early Monday morning.

“There is a couple in another state who have contacted an adoption agency looking for a family to adopt their Down Syndrome unborn baby. If a couple has not been found by today they plan to abort the baby. If you are interested in adopting this baby please contact Fr. VW IMMEDIATELY,” read the post from Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Virginia.

“We are asking all to pray for this baby and the wisdom that this couple realize the importance of human life and do not abort this beautiful gift from God.”

The plea lit up social media, spreading far and wide. Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where Fr. Vander Woude himself went to college, forwarded the plea to its faith-filled alumni.

Parish staff arriving for work that morning were flabbergasted by the immediate response.

“When we got in and opened up around 9:30, it was nearly nonstop. All day long, we were receiving phone calls from people who wanted to adopt the baby,” church staff member Martha Drennan told the Washington Times. “Father Vander Woude has gotten over 900 emails in regard to the baby.”

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Offers to open heart and home to the baby with an extra copy of chromosome 21 poured in from across the country and around the world, including from England, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands, Drennan said. 

The response was so overwhelming that seminarian David Dufresne offered to help field calls. 

“I was taking calls for about three hours straight, just talking to people who are willing to adopt this little baby they never knew about until that morning,” Dufresne, who will be ordained to the priesthood next year, told The Times

“I mean, all day long, just receiving phone calls from people who were so generous and within a couple minutes made a life-changing decision. I was really inspired by the goodness of people and what they would do to save a life.” 

Parish staff narrowed down the offers to three families and forwarded their information to the young couple, who are now reviewing the offers with the assistance of an adoption agency. 

"I spoke with the adoption agency last night," Fr. Vander Woude said in an update sent to Christendom College alumni. "They have three families that they will submit to the birth parents. I asked if they wanted more. The woman said the three they have is good for now. So, I will just be in contact with them this week."

"Thank you for your generosity for this little baby," said the priest. "It is beautiful to see how many couples have contacted me about him – and I haven’t done a lot of advertising!"

Drennan called the pro-life international effort to save the baby from abortion a “wonderful use of social media”.

“It was a beautiful witness all day long that so many people wanted this child and believed in the dignity of that child — Down syndrome or not,” she said.