As Athena Edith Wyatt’s story proves, the length of people’s lives is irrelevant to their status as inherently precious human beings. Whether someone is destined to live for many years or mere hours, everyone deserves the dignity of living the life they were intended to have before passing away naturally.
According to CheshireLive, while baby Athena was not long for this world, the first and last moments she had with her parents, Dawn and Steven Wyatt, were full of unimaginable joy and love.
The parents from Macclesfield, England, said in an interview that they first learned about an abnormality in Athena’s development during a 12-week ultrasound scan. The medical staff then referred the parents to a fetal medicine unit, where a test revealed that Athena would likely be born with either Patau’s, Edwards, Down syndrome.
A later diagnosis revealed the Wyatts’ baby indeed had Edwards syndrome, also known as Trisomy 18. Babies with this condition have three copies of chromosome 18 instead of two, which can lead to slow intrauterine growth and low birth weight. Affected individuals may also face severe life-threatening medical conditions, and many babies with Trisomy 18 die before birth or within the first few months post-delivery.
In Athena’s case, she also had esophageal atresia, a circumstance that arises in just 5% of trisomy 18 cases where there is no link between the child’s throat and stomach. As more fatal conditions arose further into Dawn’s pregnancy, the doctors informed her that Athena would have to be delivered via Caesarean section at 35 weeks gestation.
Tragically, Athena was born with her stomach inside her chest and no left lung. After she went into cardiac arrest while in the ICU, a doctor revived her, stating that Athena “needed to spend time with her parents.”
“We got there straight away, and from that point on, what was incredible, if you see any newborn babies they slip in and out of sleep,” Dawn said. “But Athena lay there, so focused and she did not close her eyes apart from blinking for five and half hours.”
“The only time she closed her eyes was when she died, she stayed awake for all of those hours. It was as if she knew I have got to see mummy and daddy. We sang songs and nursery rhymes to her and read books. I stroked her all over her body so she knew what that felt like,” her mother added.
It was then, in the arms of the people who loved her most in this world, that Athena’s heart stopped beating, and she died “peacefully.”
Dawn then explained that she and her husband decided to name their daughter Athena because, like the goddess of Greek mythology, she “was a warrior and she fought really hard,” inspiring “courage” in all the doctors, nurses, and people around the world who followed her story.
Though Athena’s life outside the womb was short, she was welcomed into life with the love of her parents, who have cherished memories of her existence.
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