A mother-to-be who was told her baby would die in childbirth told doctors she wanted to go ahead so her child’s organs could be used for infant transplants.
The woman and her husband turned down a chance to terminate the pregnancy in Madrid.
Instead, the couple chose to go on, even though they knew their son’s rare genetic abnormality meant he could never live outside the womb.
Dr Braulio De la Calle – transplant coordinator at the Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid called the gesture “absolutely exceptional”.
He said: “It is very exciting to see that parents who you have just told that their son is going to die come up with the idea of donating and giving meaning to other lives.”
The parents – who have not been named – were reportedly told in the sixth month of pregnancy.
Ultrasound and other tests revealed that their son could not survive childbirth.
Since the birth, the newborn’s heart valves were reportedly donated to save another baby’s life.
Dr De la Calle said: “The operation was successful and the transplanted baby is developing favourably.”
The doctor praised the donor baby’s parents, saying: “Paediatric donation is very infrequent, especially if it is the donation of a foetus that dies in childbirth.”
The couple’s selfless generosity is being considered a new milestone in medicine in Spain, according to local media.
Spain is one of the leading countries in organ donation with 40.2 donors per million population, double the donation rate of the European Union of 18.4.
The country’s health minister, Caroline Dias, has hailed Spain’s “chain of life” commitment saying that in 2021, there were 4,781 transplant operations, an increase of 8% on 2020.
“Many countries are interested in the functioning of the Spanish Transplant Model, which has once again demonstrated its vigour despite the adversities,” the Minister for Health remarked.
It is currently unclear if other organs have been harvested from the baby.