A tragic tot who died before she was a month old has become one of the youngest organ donors in the UK.
Ami, 28, and Liam Duggleby, 26, took the brave decision to donate the organs of their baby daughter Minnie after she was born with a congenital heart defect and vital muscles missing from her throat.
The tot was born at a healthy 6lb 14oz following a routine pregnancy but within hours of her birth Ami and Liam were faced with the heartbreaking reality that their daughter was not going to survive.
With little chance of Minnie surviving multiple open heart and throat procedures the parents decided to let their daughter die comfortably and not in pain.
Minnie sadly died when she was just 23 days old.
The heroic couple, from Driffield, East Yorks., then asked doctors whether they would be able to offer their baby’s organs for donation.
Ami said: “I wanted to feel like she was going to achieve something.
“She could have just worked at the Co-op or discovered something nobody had done before but she’s done more in her little life than I have in 28 years.
“It’s just made a really horrific experience more positive. We will never forget her.”
Ami married joiner Liam and the couple tried for another child straight away after eldest daughter Lilly was born three years earlier.
Ami’s pregnancy ran smoothly until a midwife noticed she was bigger than expected at 32 weeks.
She was then induced at 37 weeks at Scarborough General Hospital, North Yorks., and had seemingly given birth to a normal, healthy baby.
Ami said: “She was fine when she was born so we were allowed to stay with her and after an hour things started to change and she went a funny colour.”
“I didn’t realise how serious it was.”
A scan just after her birth revealed a defect called a tracheoesophageal fistula, which meant the pipe connecting Minnie’s throat to her stomach hadn’t connected properly. Minnie was taken to Leeds General Infirmary overnight for emergency surgery which proved to be a success.
However doctors then detected Minnie was suffering from a heart murmur and part of her heart was severely underdeveloped.
If she was going to survive the youngster would need three open heart operations before she was five and was not expected to live past 30.
Doctors also found she was missing vital muscles from her throat that would need operating on.
Ami said: “It was devastating, she was only 24 hours old and then I’m 28 — to think she would only live to my age.”
“It was a case of putting her through horrific operations for her to potentially die, and her quality of life would have been terrible. She would still need ventilating.”
On what was due to be the date Minnie was born, Liam and Ami agreed to let Minnie die peacefully.
Ami said: “We would rather she be with us and comfortable rather than dying on the operating table.”
“The doctor couldn’t believe we brought donation up. we didn’t realise this was something they had never done.”
Doctors then removed Minnie’s ventilator and the tot fought on for two hours before she died.
Dad Liam said: “You want to do as much as possible for them. I’m used to be able to fix stuff but you can’t. I was trying to keep everybody positive but I couldn’t do anything.”
Minnie was then taken to surgery, where her organs were removed, before she was taken back to her parents who dressed her in an outfit they had requested.
Ami said: “When we went home I desperately didn’t want to go but I needed to.”
“It was probably the most horrendous walk out of hospital in my life as on Clarendon Wing there’s people there with their babies and we had to sort funeral plans.”
Within two weeks of her death Minnie’s funeral was held, with Ami and Liam having to go through the heartbreaking trauma of registering her birth and death at the same time.
The couple have since received a letter of thanks from the person who was gifted with Minnie’s kidneys.
Ami said: “I could honestly burst with pride for Minnie.”
“There’s a part of Minnie and a part of me in that person and without it they might never have got a donor.”