Human Interest

Mom chose life for daughter with half a heart: ‘I’m glad I listened to my instincts’

chose life

If Demi Goodman had listened to her doctors, her daughter would not be here right now. In 2016, Goodman, who lives in the UK, found out she was pregnant. She was over-the-moon excited to welcome a new child. But when a routine ultrasound showed a problem, doctors told her to have an abortion — and instead, she chose life.

At her 20-week anatomy scan, Goodman found out that her daughter had a condition which had caused only half of her heart to develop. On top of that devastating news, she was told that her daughter’s brain could be damaged, she might never walk, and would need multiple surgeries just to survive.

READ: Baby born with half a heart is fighting for his life

“I couldn’t believe what I was being told,” she said. “I was heartbroken. The doctor said it would probably be best to terminate the pregnancy.” Instead, she chose life for her daughter, and in August of 2017, delivered little baby Beau. “When I looked at her little face I fell in love,” Goodman said.

Beau had open heart surgery after she was born, along with another surgery at four months, both of which she survived. She then had a third surgery at the beginning of 2018, and now, at 14 months old, Beau is healthy, happy, and thriving. Far from the terrible scenario doctors painted for Goodman, Beau is able to play and walk like other children her age.

“She’s a very happy baby and she’s always laughing,” she said. “I’m glad I listened to my instincts and kept her safe. I’m so proud of her because she’s doing everything the doctors said she wouldn’t.”

Palmer family with Jack who received a heart and lung tranpslant after being born with half a heart.

Baby Beau is far from the only child to survive — and thrive — with her condition. The Palmer family was turned away by doctors across the country because their baby boy had half a heart, and every time, doctors said he would die before his first birthday. But they finally found a medical team willing to help him, and Jack became the youngest person to receive a heart and lung transplant for his condition. So far, he is doing well post-transplant.

Lisa and Michael Ambler found out their daughter had only half a heart after struggling with infertility for years. Doctors wanted them to have an abortion, saying she would not live for very long, but they refused. Their daughter, Lacey-Janet, had open heart surgery not long after birth, and now, is thriving.

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Lisa and Zeke Smiley

Another mom, Lisa Smiley, was advised to have an abortion after her son was diagnosed prenatally with the condition. After she and her husband refused, the doctors continued to pressure them, but they were steadfast in their decision to choose life for their son. He thrived, reaching all of his childhood milestones. When he went into cardiac arrest, doctors again gave no hope, telling his parents he was in a vegetative state and would never recover, pressuring them to euthanize their son. But they again chose life, and Zeke again surpassed all the odds, learning to walk, eat, and talk again. He tragically passed away at seven years old, and the Smileys have never regretted their decision to fight for his right to live.

Women are frequently pressured to abort after receiving a prenatal diagnosis of a disability, with doctors not uncommonly emphasizing the negative aspects of the condition in an effort to persuade mothers that abortion is best. But the reality is, every child has the right to life, with disabilities or the prospect of a shortened lifespan. Life is not a right only reserved for the privileged and perfect.

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