Couple's devastating decision to abort after unborn baby diagnosed with birth defect

A young couple has faced the ‘most difficult’ decision of their lives after tests revealed their unborn child had a severe birth defect.

Jade Dodson, from West Yorkshire in the UK, was 20 weeks into her pregnancy when a scan showed her daughter had spina bifida – a neural tube defect that affects about one in 1000 babies.

Jade and husband Mark, who named their child Amalie Maya, made the heartbreaking decision to terminate the pregnancy “in to order free Amalie of the inevitable pain and suffering she would have endured throughout her life”, the couple wrote on a crowdfunding page.

“This has by far been the most difficult thing we have ever faced.”

Amalie was diagnosed with the most severe – and also most common – form of the defect, myelomeningocele.

“In Amalie’s case [it] would highly likely mean full paralysis of the legs, urinary and bowel dysfunction, and learning difficulties,” the Dodsons wrote online.

“She would have needed an operation as soon as she was born and a shunt attached to her brain which would always be at risk of becoming infected and causing further brain damage.”

After consulting doctors, the couple decided to terminate the pregnancy at 22 weeks.

“We were told I could have a procedure with local anaesthetic to stop Amalie’s heartbeat before giving birth and this is what we decided to do at 22 weeks,” Ms Dodson told the Mirror Online.

An ultrasound image of baby Amalie Maya. Source:
An ultrasound image of baby Amalie Maya. Source:

“We felt this was the best thing ethically for Amalie. Our decision was made entirely for her.”

After the procedure on December 22, the family held an emotional funeral for Amalie on January 4 after Ms Dodson had recovered from an infection.

To honour their daughter and raise funds for medical research into spinda bifida, the Dodsons are taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge, where groups aim to climb three mountain peaks in under 12 hours.

“This has by far been the most difficult thing we have ever faced.”

“Amalie was born on the 22nd Dec, but her due date should have been the 27th April 2019,” the fundraising page said.

“This is when we will complete the hike, taking a moment at the top of each peak to remember Amalie.

“The aim of our Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge is to raise the much-needed funds required to provide continued research into the future prevention and treatment of Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects.

“Together we can help eliminate Spina Bifida forever.”

The couple aims to raise £5000 (AU$9200), and are already more than halfway to their target through the Just Giving page.

One generous donator said she went through similar circumstances with her own pregnancy and sympathised with the couple.

“At 20 weeks pregnant with our first child we had to make a choice like you did, like you we chose to take on the pain ourselves so that our child wouldn’t have to,” the donor said.

“Sending much love.”

Jade told Yahoo Style UK: “It was a torturous decision that we had to face. Whilst it’s never 100% clear with Spina Bifida how badly a child will be effected until they’re born, we had a confident diagnosis from 2 specialist Doctors and lots of scans that confirmed Amalie’s case was a severely bad one.

“The Spina Bifida was high in the lumbar region and the higher up the spine the worse a child is affected.”

“The grief and pain hits me over and over again. I will always remember Amalie and be proud of what her life is standing for; to raise money and awareness for Spina Bifida. It’s important to understand that children with Spina Bifida can go on to live a happy and fulfilled life but this is dependent on the severity of the condition.

“It can also be a fatal condition and it’s important that any expectant parent faced with it makes a thoroughly informed decision based on the individual diagnosis given and their own personal circumstances.

“Sharing this story is not to give my view on what others should do. Spina Bifida is a snowflake condition, which means no two people are affected in exactly the same way and the amount of damage to the central nervous system (brain and spine) varies from case to case. The reason for sharing this story is to raise funds for research to help stop Spina Bifida and it’s devasting effects on people’s lives.

“The money raised could help you, your neighbour, your own children and their children in the future – as Spina Bifida in our case was not passed through genes and it was not because I didn’t take folic acid (I took folic acid for 3 years whilst trying to conceive). There was no specific reason. Please consider this and please donate to the charity of which 100% of the money raised will go to.”

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