Organ donations don't often come from babies, but one mother faced with losing her child, decided to make a gift that would make a difference.
Sarah and Ross Gray were excited about having twin boys, then got devastating news. "We found out that one of them was healthy and one of them wasn't," Gray said.
One baby had anencephaly, a fatal disorder that prevents the brain and skull from forming correctly. Callum and Thomas Gray were born on March 23rd, 2010. Thomas only lived for six days. "There's nothing we could do to save Thomas's life. We were able to accept that, and I think, you know, this is inevitable, but doesn't have to be unproductive. Maybe something good could come
Sarah spent the last weeks of her pregnancy ensuring her baby's legacy through science. Thomas' organs were too tiny to transplant, but the Grays donated his liver, blood and eyes to researchers at three prestigious universities. Dr. Arupa Ganguly studies eye cancer in children at the University of Pennsylvania. "The donation of the retina, which is impossible to get under normal circumstances, was very valuable to say the least," he said.
Sarah eventually reached out to Dr. Ganguly to find out if her donation had made a difference. Last year the Gray family finally visited her lab. "This made a very nice human connection, which is everlasting for all of us," Dr. Ganguly said.
Sarah also visited Harvard and Duke. The research using Thomas' tissue has been published in nearly two dozen academic articles. "I just think we didn't know the impact he was about to have. He's an important baby," Gray said.
Callum, now six years old, has a baby sister, Jocelyn, and Sarah works for the National Tissue Bank, which facilitates a million transplants a year. She says seeing the impact of her gift inspired her to help others make the same choice.
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