It was a diagnosis no parent-to-be ever wants to receive but, nevertheless, Jessica and Sampson Shnurman sat in utter disbelief when their doctor gave them the grim news. Pregnant for 13 weeks, Jessica had just undergone her first ultrasound of her daughter and things were not at all what they had expected.
Doctors revealed to the shocked parents that their daughter “had a large fluid filled cyst at the top of her spine.” (Fox News) “Doctors told the couple their daughter, Lilah, was incompatible with life as the birth defect was preventing her brain stem from developing as it should.”
Unwilling to terminate the pregnancy no matter what, Jessica, 30, was buoyed by the hope that, even though her daughter would not likely survive after birth, her organs could possibly give new life to another child. Thus, she continued with the pregnancy, praying for the best but preparing for the worst.
In Jessica’s own words” "My husband and I talked about our options and it just didn’t feel right to terminate. We wanted to let God make the decision. As soon as Lilah arrived they put her into my arms and she opened her eyes and cried."
Even though Jessica and Sampson did not expect their daughter to be born alive, they were amazed to see their little girl open her eyes and cry, just like any other newborn would. Lilah came into the world on August 29th, weighing in at six pounds, five ounces and joined big brother Abel, two, to make the Shnurmans a family of four.
"It was so special because we weren’t sure if she would be born alive," she said. "We spent the whole first day with our family and friends and she was passed from person to person for cuddles.
"My husband brought Abel in right away because we didn’t know how long we would have with her," she said. "He immediately wanted to hold her and was kissing all over her."
Surpassing all expectations, little Lilah survived another nine days, spending that time at home in the loving care of her parents and big brother. Fox News reports, “Lilah passed away in her mother’s arms on September 7, but the valves of her tiny heart were donated through the Iowa Donors Network to help another baby.
“The infant's lungs were also donated to medical research at the University of Iowa and her parents say they feel privileged that their special daughter’s legacy will live on.”
Please join us in praying for Lilah Grace's parents during this difficult time, and for the families whose babies were given a new chance at life thanks to the selfless actions of the grieving Shnurman family.