April 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — The life and legacy of baby Teddy Houlston and the strength of his parents have “given hope” to an Irish couple whose unborn baby has been diagnosed with the same severe life limiting condition. Baby Teddy, who suffered from anencephaly, lived only a hundred minutes after birth yet managed to save another life through the gift of organ donation. His story made headlines, not just in Britain but around the world.
The story of the Houlston family’s gift has provided inspiration and strength to the McGill family of Aghadowey in Northern Ireland. In December, expectant Elisha McGill received the most devastating news any mother could imagine. A routine prenatal scan revealed that her unborn baby – a little girl called Annie – had anencephaly, a condition wherein the brain and the skull fail to properly develop.
Elisha and her husband were informed by medical staff that it was very possible that Annie would only live a few minutes after birth. They were also told that parents often choose to abort when faced with such a dire diagnosis.
Elisha and Dermot, already parents to sons Ollie (2) and Bobby (1), refused to abort their baby. They decided instead to make the most of whatever time they would have with their daughter and to also allow Annie to give the gift of life through organ donation after her death. “We hope to be able to cuddle our baby and love her until she passes away naturally and hopefully let parts of her live on in other babies,” Elisha stated.
The McGill family who are anticipating Annie’s birth in a few weeks, have been deeply encouraged by the example of baby Teddy’s parents, Jess Evans and Mike Houlston. Elisha told the Belfast Telegraph, “Teddy has left such a positive legacy. They were able to see our Facebook page and they contacted us to offer advice and guidance, which was just lovely of them. For them to talk in public was very much a message of hope and has encouraged us that it can be done.”
The issue of babies prenatally diagnosed with life limiting conditions has been the topic of much debate recently- particularly in Ireland, where there has been a concerted effort to legislate for abortion in cases like Teddy and Annie’s. Abortion advocates label these children “incompatible with life” and argue that termination is the merciful option for parents and babies when a diagnosis suggests that the baby will not live long after birth.
Groups like Every Life Counts, which advocates and supports families with children with life limiting conditions, strongly objects to this rhetoric and argue instead for proper medical care for these babies and support for their parents. Indeed, recent research demonstrates not only that “incompatible with life” is an inaccurate description but also that continuing with the pregnancy can be enormously beneficial for parents. A study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has shown that more than 70 percent of children with anencephaly do live after birth, even if for a short time, and that time is of enormous value and comfort to their parents.
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Perhaps most significantly, abortion advocates fail to see the value and impact that even the shortest life can have. The life of Teddy Houlston, who in his short life knew only love and managed to save someone else’s life, is a prime example of this.
The McGill family have experienced an enormous wave of support from all over the world since they went public with their diagnosis. They are hoping that Annie’s life will bring attention to the issue of anencephaly and the importance of organ donation. Despite the hardship, the McGill’s also hope that their story will be able to help other families facing similar situations. Elisha stated, “I couldn't be any prouder of my husband, my baby girl Annie and our two boys Ollie and Bobby and really hope that this will help others who may have to face what we are going through in the future.”