healthHealth and Medicine

74-Minute-Old Baby Becomes Britain's Youngest Organ Donor


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

4139 74-Minute-Old Baby Becomes Britain's Youngest Organ Donor
Panom Pensawang/Shutterstock

Wales has made the news this week for becoming the first country in the United Kingdom to introduce an opt-out organ donation system, where the consent of the donor is assumed upon death unless otherwise stated. Nearby, the English city of Cambridge is making similar headlines as a baby girl born there, who only lived to be 74 minutes old, has become the country’s youngest organ donor, as reported by the Guardian.

Thirteen weeks into her pregnancy, Emma Lee from Newmarket, Suffolk, discovered that her unborn child was found to be suffering from anencephaly, a rare condition that prevents the baby’s skull from properly forming and developing. With very few exceptions, almost all babies with this condition die before they are born, or at the most, live a few days after birth.


Emma and her husband Drew were obviously devastated by this news, but shortly afterwards, they were inspired to keep on with the pregnancy after hearing about the story of Teddy Houlston, a boy from Cardiff, born this April, who also suffered from anencephaly. Although he only lived for 100 minutes, he donated his heart valves and two kidneys before dying.

Shortly after the baby girl named Hope, along with her twin brother Josh, were born, they died. Hope was then taken immediately to a separate operating room, and her kidneys were removed. They were then transplanted into a waiting adult patient. Cells from her liver were also frozen in order to be used at a later date to treat those requiring liver transplants.

“Today she is still living on inside someone else and it helps with the grief, it’s taken some of the pain away. I don’t think anyone spoke during the 74 minutes, we just all gave her cuddles,” Emma told the Guardian.

Hope was born by Caesarean section at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, weighing 1.25 kilograms (2 pounds and 13 ounces). She may have died in just over an hour, but she likely saved someone else’s life in the process.


“She only lived for 74 minutes but she has achieved more than some people do in a lifetime. We feel our little girl is a hero,” Drew added.

[H/T: The Guardian]

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