Couple whose daughter lived for just nine days are proud she was able to save another life by donating organs

Doctors told Jessica Shnurman there was a problem with the baby growing in her womb early into her pregnancy.

                            Couple whose daughter lived for just nine days are proud she was able to save another life by donating organs

A heartbroken couple found solace that their daughter, who lived for merely nine days, was able to save the life of another embattled baby.

At about 13 weeks, an ultrasound showed Lilah had a large fluid-filled cyst at the top of her spine, leaving Jessica and Sampson Shnurman, from Cumming, Iowa, devastated.

According to doctors, Lilah would not survive long as her brain stem was not developing as it should due to the said birth defect. Despite the news, 30-year-old Jessica, a surgical nurse, and 31-year-old Sampson, a contractor, continued the pregnancy to term. They also asked hospital authorities if their daughter would be a suitable candidate for organ donation.

On August 29, the pair welcomed their 6lb 5oz baby Lilah. The Shnurmans, who also have a two-year-old son Abel, said seeing Lilah open her eyes and cry was the most precious moment of their lives, the Des Moines Register reported.



The couple did not expect the infant to be born alive. They simply felt blessed that they were able to take young Lilah home, where she lived for just nine days.

While the little tot died on September 7 in her mother's arms, the valves of her heart were donated to save another baby through the Iowa Donors Network.

Lilah's lungs were donated to the University of Iowa for medical research, making her parents feel privileged that their special daughter's legacy will carry on for years to come.

Jessica said: "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. It was so special because we weren't sure if she would be born alive. 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. He immediately wanted to hold her and was kissing all over her."

"In part of my planning I came across a group called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and I called them," she continued. "They sent us a wonderful lady who came and took our pictures together as a family. We really weren't prepared for Lilah to live for long after she was born, but when the next day came they said we could go home. We weren't at all prepared, we didn't have a car seat or clothes but the ladies at the neonatal hospice were angels and really helped us out. It was amazing. She opened her eyes and cried. She could hear our voices because she would turn her head, and she squeezed our fingers. I was so grateful for those days. We had nine days at home with Lilah. She died on Sept 7 at 4.07 am in my arms."




"When Lilah opened her eyes and cried, it was a moment I will always remember. It was so nice to go home and get out of the hospital. We were able to feel what it would be like to be a family of four and that was very special." Sampson added.

The pair called the Iowa Donor Network soon after Lilah's passing. 

Jessica said: "Lilah was able to donate her heart's valves to help another child, and her lungs were donated as well. We feel incredibly blessed that Lilah has the opportunity to live on through someone else. Lilah was able to give something so precious to another family."

Jessica, Sampson, and 2-year-old Abel marked little Lilah's life with a somber funeral two days after her precious donation.

Jessica said: "She's buried in a small country cemetery near our home. My husband made her casket himself and my grandma made the lining. A family member gave her a little quilt and it was the most beautiful day outside. My little boy asks about Lilah every day."