A brave mother whose unborn child is terminally ill will carry her baby to full term in order to donate her organs to another dying child.

Hayley Martin, 30, from Hull, East Yorkshire found out at her 20-week scan that her child will die during labour or within minutes of birth.

While doctors suggested she get a termination to avoid the trauma of birth, she has decided to take the pregnancy to term so their baby daughter's organs can go to other newborns in desperate need of transplants.

Mrs Martin and her husband Scott, also 30, hope their unborn child will live on through the lives on children she saves.


The selfless mother, who is likely to be induced Christmas week, a month before her due date, has even vowed to donate one of her own kidneys in Ava-Joy's name as soon as she has recovered from the birth.

Mrs Martin said: "Our child is going to die no matter what, but if we can try and save somebody else the grief we are going through, it will all be worth it.

Hayley and Scott don't want their children Kiowa, Layla and Oliver, to be shielded from the tragedy and tell them about their younger sister, Ava as they grow up. Photo / Triangle News
Hayley and Scott don't want their children Kiowa, Layla and Oliver, to be shielded from the tragedy and tell them about their younger sister, Ava as they grow up. Photo / Triangle News

"It was not an easy decision but it was the right decision, and it has helped me cope with the heartbreak.

"A part of her will live on, she won't be completely gone. She will be alive in somebody else.

"It is her Christmas gift to other poorly babies.

"And I want to donate my kidney too because Ava will be born without any to donate. I want to give one in her honour."

Mr and Mrs Martin, who already have three children, were thrilled to learn they were expecting another baby earlier this year.

Mrs Martin said: "I remember our first scan picture and we could just see this little baby who looked like they were waving - it was so beautiful."

But a few months later the mum-of-three said something didn't feel right as she didn't "feel pregnant" and her stomach didn't feel big enough.

At 19-weeks she could still lie on her tummy because she hardly had a bump.

When they went to there five-month scan, the couple were expecting to find out the sex of the baby, but instead were heartbroken to discover their child, who they named Ava-Joy would not survive beyond pregnancy.

Ava-Joy was diagnosed with bilateral renal agenesis - a rare genetic disorder.

It is always fatal and means the baby has no kidneys or bladder and is not surrounded by enough amniotic fluid, causing underdeveloped lungs.

The doctors explained it was a terminal diagnosis and their baby would go into respiratory arrest very soon after birth.

Many parents advise that the mother terminates the pregnancy to avoid the trauma of giving birth to a dying child - but Mrs Martin decided to continue the pregnancy and give birth to Ava-Joy so she could donate her viable organs to other babies.

The Martin family are planning on having a wake and a funeral service for Ava-Joy, before she is cremated. Photo / Triangle News
The Martin family are planning on having a wake and a funeral service for Ava-Joy, before she is cremated. Photo / Triangle News

Mrs Martin said: "Of course it's heartbreaking. I see other pregnant mums happily expecting and I feel such sorrow.

"I have all the symptoms of a healthy pregnancy and I can feel Ava inside me but I know I won't get to bring her up at the end of it.

"Even walking past pregnant women on the street or seeing babies in the supermarket can leave me in floods of tears.

"But I am determined to create something positive out of this agonising experience.

"I also know there will be babies out there who could have a chance at life with Ava's healthy organs. Why should two babies die if one can be saved?"

However, the stoic mother-of-three still gets upset when she thinks about losing her tot.

"I try to be as honest as possible and have a rehearsed speech prepared, but at times I can't help but to fall apart and cry - especially when strangers congratulate me in the supermarket or at the shops", she said.

The baby has to weigh a minimum of 5.5lbs to become an organ donor and the couple are still unsure about what their daughter will be able to donate, but think her heart valves, liver cells and pancreas are the likely candidates.

The couple also plan to write letters to the recipients to thank them for being able to help their daughter live on.

Mr Martin, an events first aider, said finding out the news was the most painful moment of the couple's lives.

"We went home that night and couldn't say a word to each other. I felt like I was choking.

"Hayley went upstairs and sank into the bed, just lying there in the dark.

"The only thing we had bought for Ava-Joy at the time was this white baby blanket. I took it up to Hayley - she has slept with it every night since we found out" he said.

If Ava-Joy doesn't pass away during labour, doctors are hoping the couple will have at least a few moments with their daughter while she is still alive.

Mrs Martin said: "Even if I get just one second of her opening her little eyes and looking at me - that would be a moment that no one can ever take away from me.

"If Ava-Joy takes just one breath, she will be considered legally alive and will get a birth certificate.

"Once she passes away, her organs and tissue will be quickly retrieved and she will then be put in a Cuddle Cot, which cools the baby's body and prolongs the amount of time parents can spend with their child after they pass away.

The couple will be able to dress Ava-Joy in the outfits they have bought for her, take photographs and stay close to her.

This extra time will give the family the chance to say goodbye.

The Martins are also planning on starting a charity project in Ava-Joy's memory to help other families who decide to carry to term, despite a fatal diagnosis.

They want to raise awareness of fatal fetal conditions, and support families by creating "memory packs" to help them capture every precious moment.

Ava's Butterfly Baby Pathway will provide families with 4D scans, bump casts, journals, memory books and heartbeat bears.

The couple themselves took a recording of Ava-Joy's heartbeat and had it put into a bear to give them something of their baby to keep after she slips away.

They feel it is hugely important to create memories during the pregnancy, as that is the only time they will get to spend with their child.

Mrs Martin said: "Every night I have a bath with Ava-Joy, as she tends to kick and move around more when I have a bath.

"I make it as fun as possible, I use bath bombs or I read or sing to her.

"All the stuff a mother might do when the baby is born, but I am doing it now."

The couple don't want their children to be shielded from the tragedy and will grow up telling them about their younger sister.

"Ava-Joy, no matter what, will always be my daughter and she will always be my children's little sister," Mrs Martin said.

The Martin family are planning on having a wake and a funeral service for Ava-Joy, before she is cremated.

They are Crowdfunding to raise money for her funeral so they can afford a special service.

"We want to show her how important she is", Mrs Martin said.

"I am not going to be able to ever give her a birthday or Christmas present - all the stuff a mother should be able to do - so the funeral is really important to me.

"We want to say goodbye in a way that mirrors just how special and loved she truly is to us."