Teddy’s story is a heartwarming tribute to parents and a newborn that continues to inspire millions of people. When Jess Evans was 12 weeks pregnant with twin boys, doctors told her one of them was fatally ill with anencephaly – a rare birth defect that prevents brain and skull development.
Even though Jess and Teddy’s father, Mike Houlston, were told the infant might survive only a day or two, the couple carried on with the pregnancy, wanting just a few precious moments to be with him.
Mike said, “Throughout the pregnancy, Teddy was so strong. Every single day he was punching around. We knew right from the beginning that there was more to him.”
Teddy and his brother, Noah, were born on April 22, 2014, at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. Sadly, Teddy slipped away from the world 100 minutes after he was born under the hot and bright lights of the hospital’s delivery room.
In April, The Mirror covered Teddy’s story – a heartbreaking battle Jess and Mike faced in coming to terms with the loss of their child.
However, Jess and Mike’s thoughts turned to helping others. In the face of their agony, they decided to explore whether there was a possibility that Teddy could become an organ donor. After determining that Teddy could actually contribute, medics carried out an extraordinary and pioneering surgery to donate Teddy’s kidneys and heart valves.
Three minutes after his death, Teddy became Britain’s youngest ever organ donor.
He had saved an adult stranger’s life.
Jess and Mike view Teddy’s story as a source of pride. Mike said, “He lived and died a hero. It’s impossible to explain how proud we are of him.”
Jess shared her thoughts of Teddy’s story.
“Although he wasn’t with us very long, and we brought him into the world knowing there was no hope of a life for him, we are incredibly proud of his heroism. We hope Teddy’s story will inspire families who find themselves in the position of losing a child. Knowing part of your loved one is living on in someone else is comforting.”
Amazingly, Teddy’s story inspired millions. In fact, the parents of Britain’s youngest organ donor have revealed their pride at an extra 100,000 people signing up as organ donors since the Mirror shared this tragic story.
The campaign initiated by the Mirror’s article in April had an enormous impact — it encouraged readers to share the story on social media, using the hashtag #TeddysStory.
According to additional coverage by the Mirror and official NHS figures, between April and August this year, 526,712 people signed up to NHS Organ Donor Register for the first time – compared to 414,426 sign-ups during the same period in 2014.
Mike commented about his son’s legacy.
“I don’t know how to put how I feel into words. We are dumbfounded by the response. We are just so proud of Teddy’s legacy. It shows he’s a hero.”
Published research by NHS Blood and Transplant cites a populous survey of 2,000 people found the equivalent of almost 12 million Brits is aware of Teddy’s story. Of those, 47 percent – equal to five million – said it made them consider donating their organs after death.
Crucially, more than four million people said Teddy’s story made them consider whether they would donate their own children or babies’ organs.
Senior officials at NHS officials said this is a real breakthrough because out of the 6,912 patients currently waiting for a transplant, 193 are children.
NHS made the point that they cannot prove beyond doubt that Teddy’s story is exclusively responsible for the surge; however, chiefs agreed the impact is unprecedented.
Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, provided some additional insight.
“We saw a huge increase in people signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register when the story hit the media. Also, two-thirds of people who heard about Teddy’s story and signed up to the register since his story was in the media said it influenced their decision. We’ve also had more enquiries from neonatal teams and families of small babies and during pregnancy about organ donation in the months since. Without doubt, their story has had an impact.”
The Populous survey also found Teddy’s story motivated more than three million people to talk to friends and family members about donating organs after they die.
When people share their thoughts and feeling about donating their organs after they die, it’s almost as important as signing up in the first place, because donations sometimes don’t go ahead due to confusion from loved ones about the deceased patient’s wishes at the time organ donation is about to take place.
It is exceptionally rare for new babies to be considered as donors. Nonetheless, Teddy’s story embraces how after the couple made the decision to donate, Teddy’s kidneys were removed then transported 233 miles to Leeds and transplanted to an adult patient suffering from renal failure.
Dr. Paul Murphy, of NHS Blood and Transplant, described Teddy’s gift of life as a “milestone moment.”
“Every donation is inspirational. It is a selfless act of heroism. But Teddy’s story is exceptional. He was the youngest organ donor in the UK.”
Sadly, though Teddy did not survive, his twin brother, Noah, was healthy and is now 17 months old.
Teddy remains a big part of the family’s life today, and Noah and Billie are encouraged to think about their little brother whenever they can.
One year after Teddy died, his 3-year-old sister, Billie, clutched a teddy bear while at the family home in Cardiff.
Billie pressed a button buried in the teddy bear’s fur, and then suddenly — a beat echoed around the living room. It was a human heart beating.
But it wasn’t just anyone’s beating heart. It was her brother Teddy’s, recorded when Jess was pregnant.
Mike asked his step-daughter Billie, “What happened after he died?”
Jess added, “Where did he go?”
Billie smiles and says, “Heaven, playing football.”
[Featured image via Shutterstock]