Life Video

By Josh Saunders


A mum who carried her baby that was destined to die so that she could donate her organs reveals her precious and heart-breaking week of life.

Krysta Davis, 23, and, Derek Lovett, 26, from Cleveland, Tennessee, made the brave decision with the hope that other parents would be able to take their babies home, when they couldn’t.

MANDATORY BYLINE CLARISSA TILLEY / CATERS NEWS – First moments for parents Krysta and Derek with their daughter Rylei, they didnt know if she would live moments or days at best

At 18-weeks it was revealed that Rylei Arcadia had anencephaly, a serious birth defect meaning should would be born without parts of her brain.

Doctors told the couple that they could induce labour immediately or carry to term knowing their daughter could die in the womb, and at after delivery best live for moments or days.

Knowing their time was limited, they savoured every moment of the pregnancy discovering her favourite bands and relishing every kick.

On Christmas Eve, Rylei was born weighing six pounds and miraculously survived a week before passing away on New Year’s Eve in the arms of her parents.

PICS BY KRYSTA DAVIS / CATERS NEWS – Several scans showing Rylei – it was from further testing that it was recognised that she had anencephaly – and part of the lacking growing around the skull can be seen on scans

Her short life allowed two other babies a chance at live after her heart valves were donated, and her lungs to a research foundation.

The parents believe they made the right decision for their daughter and had their cherished time captured by photographer Clarissa Tilley and videographer Autumn Cleek.

Krysta, an assistant manager, 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 favourite band was Fleetwood Mac and did a lot of normal parent things but had an extra ounce to cherish that little more.

MANDATORY BYLINE CLARISSA TILLEY / CATERS NEWS – First moments for parents Krysta and Derek with their daughter Rylei, they didnt know if she would live moments or days at best

“I knew I had to be happy through 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 but we found out, she moved more and more.

“As she got further along into the pregnancy we 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 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.

PICS BY KRYSTA DAVIS / CATERS NEWS -Little Rylei who survived seven days before her organs were donated to two babies and her lungs to research – the mum says she has lots of pictures of her mainly smiling

“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 those 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.”

This was not the first pregnancy tragedy to befall the couple, they sadly miscarried in September 2017 due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

While carrying Rylei it was discovered she would be born with serious defects at 18 weeks following a quad screening – the hope of organ donation led them to choose not to end the pregnancy.

PICS BY KRYSTA DAVIS / CATERS NEWS -Little Rylei who survived seven days before her organs were donated to two babies and her lungs to research – the mum says she has lots of pictures of her mainly smiling

Krysta said: “We were told there was a good chance she may not make it out alive on her own and if she did she may survive the cord being cutting as she was living off me.

“It really stemmed from the love we have for her, no matter what the outcome we would carry her to term.”

During the delivery, another complication arose with Rylei emerging facing the wrong way, despite this difficulty it meant the mum could see her daughter.

Krysta said: “I could look down and see her face, which you shouldn’t be able to do.

“I saw her little lips moving like she was smiling, it was surreal, then when they finally got the rest of her out she lay on my chest, it felt amazing.”

Photographer Clarissa Tilley, 27, photographed her short life spending 50 hours during the little girl’s week of life.

PICS BY KRYSTA DAVIS / CATERS NEWS -Little Rylei who survived seven days

Her favourite images showcase the raw emotion when a tearful Krysta sees Rylei for the first time and the last time the nurse checks her heart before putting a monitor on.

Clarissa who offers this service to parents of dying free of charge, said: “I’m a mother myself so to experience that hit me on a deeper level, it could happen to anybody and the thought of that is heart breaking.

“I treated her how I would want to be treated in that situation when Rylei was born I fell in love too, it was emotional, I fell in love with them all.

“Rylei was absolutely beautiful, she had her brain exposed but you wouldn’t have thought with how much love in the room between us all.

“She didn’t see disability or her conditions, she saw he daughter and the pure love shone from her.

PICS BY KRYSTA DAVIS / CATERS NEWS -Several scans showing Rylei – it was from further testing that it was recognised that she had anencephaly

“The nurse checking her heart was the start of Rylei surprising us even more.

“All the nurses and organ donation team were in there for 45 minutes sitting there waiting to call time of death and it never happened.

“It brings me to tears every time I look at the images, I wasn’t really in photographer mode, they mean a lot to Krysta and me I will keep them the rest of my life.”

Additionally, photographer Autumn Cleek filmed some of Rylei’s final moments to help cement the couple’s time with their daughter.

While Krysta and Derek battled the heartbreak of losing their child, they know her organs have gone onto help other families and are left with a trove of memories with their little girl.

She added: “I have never met a baby with her temperament, she never cried, she hated having her clothes changed but other than that she was a happy baby all the way around.

“We had her for the entire time, she was never away from us, every picture we have is of her smiling.”