Mom carries dying baby to term to donate her organs

Posted: Updated:
Facebook/Rylei Arcadia: An Unexpected Journey Facebook/Rylei Arcadia: An Unexpected Journey

Krysta Davis was 18 weeks pregnant with her daughter when she was told the baby had an abnormality.

The child, Rylei Arcadia Diane Lovett, was diagnosed with anencephaly soon after. It's a rare condition in which an infant is missing parts of the brain or skull.

Doctors told the 23-year-old Tennessee mother-to-be and her boyfriend, Derek Lovett that Rylei likely wouldn’t live more than 30 minutes after birth.

“It was definitely shocking," PEOPLE. "It was a huge heartbreak knowing that we’d miscarried previously and were having complications with this pregnancy. It was really hard to take in."

Doctors gave Davis the option to either induce labor or carry the baby to term and donate the child’s organs.

"There was no outcome where she would be able to survive on her own for very long if at all,” Davis said.

“We decided that even if we couldn’t bring our daughter home, no mother would have to go through what we were going to go through.”

Davis carried Rylei to term, delivering her baby girl on Christmas Eve at 40 weeks.

“She came out star-gazing. She was born face-up,” Davis said. “It was the most overwhelming feeling of love that I’ve ever felt in my life. Laying eyes on her, I never knew that I could love someone so much. It was insane.”

The ailing baby survived for an entire week after her birth. Davis, her boyfriend and Rylei spent that time at the hospital together until the baby took her last breath on New Year’s Eve.

“We were able to fit an entire lifetime of love into that one week with her that wasn’t promised to begin with. She just smiled the whole time. She was such a good baby.”

Davis said Rylei didn't cry at all during her week of life. But on her final day, she’d let out a small cry when her oxygen became too low.

After Rylei died, her heart valves were given to two children and her lungs were given to a research hospital.

“It’s been really hard coming to terms with the fact that she’s really gone. But it’s also been a great month that we’ve got to share her story.”

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to