Rylei’s heart valves give “other babies a second chance”
By Dave Andrusko
Today is National Right to Life’s office Christmas party. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, a colleague sent along the story of little Rylei Arcadia Diane Lovett which was both great timing and a wonderful blessing to me. I’d like to share her story with you.
Krysta Davis and Derek Lovett had already experienced the tragedy of a miscarriage in 2017. Then, in 2018, when Ms. Davis was 18 weeks pregnant, she was told her baby had an “abnormality.”
“Soon after, Rylei was diagnosed with anencephaly, a rare condition in which an infant is missing parts of the brain or skull,” reported PEOPLE magazine’s Char Adams. Doctors told the couple “that Rylei likely wouldn’t live more than 30 minutes after birth.”
Davis, of Cleveland, Tennessee, told Adams, “It was definitely shocking. 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.”
She was offered two options: induce labor immediately and deliver a baby far too young to survive or carry Rylei to term and donate her organs.
“[The doctor] said babies with anencephaly don’t tend to survive birth let alone cord-cutting,” Davis told Adams. “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.”
On Christmas Eve, 2018, Davis delivered Rylei at 40 weeks and two days. And then there is this remarkable quote from a mother about to lose her child within hours.
“She came out star-gazing. She was born face-up,” Davis says. “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.”
But as can be the case with babies born with anencephaly, Rylei shocked everyone: she survived for an entire week.
The couple took full advantage of this unexpected gift. “Lovett and Rylei spent that time at the hospital together until the baby took her last breath on New Year’s Eve,” Adams explained.
And Davis deeply appreciated every moment. She told PEOPLE magazine, “It was absolutely amazing going from knowing we were maybe gonna get 30 minutes with her at most to having a week with her was more than we could have ever expected or imagined.”
“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.
After Rylei died, “her heart valves were given to two children and her lungs were given to a research hospital,” Adams wrote.
“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,” Davis says. “It’s helped a lot to be able to help other women in our situation, and hear their stories. It warms our hearts to know that [Rylei’s life] will give two other babies a second chance at life.”