When Clyde and Melinda Gordon learned in 2010 that they would welcome a second child, they were overjoyed. The couple had hoped and longed for a baby, and her life was an answered prayer. The family’s joy, however, was tempered when early blood screenings and subsequent prenatal testing confirmed that the baby had a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome.
Trisomy syndromes occur when a chromosome in each cell of a person’s body replicates into a set of three, rather than the usual pair. (Another well-known Trisomy is Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21). For babies with Edwards Syndrome, this extra chromosome interferes with development in ways that are usually terminal. While some individuals with Edwards Syndrome can live into adulthood, the vast majority experience very brief lives.
Because Edwards Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities can be heartbreaking diagnoses for families, many physicians counsel parents to abort and immediately end the lives of their preborn children rather than carrying their babies to term. But the Gordons knew Abby’s life was a precious gift regardless of how long or brief that life would be, and Clyde and Melinda were determined to love and care for their daughter as long as she lived.
The Gordons, who also have a now 13-year-old daughter, welcomed baby Hope Abigail “Abby” Gordon into the world on September 23, 2010. Abby weighed 3.5 pounds and was beautiful. Doctors expected Abby to survive only minutes outside the womb, but God had other plans for Abby’s earthly life, and she lived for 12 blessed days after her birth. She passed away on October 5, 2010.
But even though the family knew that Abby’s Life would be brief, no amount of preparation can brace a family for the earth-shattering grief of losing a child. Compounding the heartbreaking emotions the family experienced during Abby’s time at home on hospice and in the wake of Abby’s death was a series of obstacles they faced. The family struggled to obtain needed pediatric equipment and to make necessary postmortem arrangements for their baby. Melinda and Clyde became intimately acquainted with the struggle facing countless families of critically-ill and terminally-ill children. Inspired by the gift of Abby’s Life, Melinda and Clyde knew they could do something to help others facing similar circumstances.
So the family founded the nonprofit Abby’s Gift. Abby’s Gift assists families with critically-ill and terminally-ill children who lack financial support for an array of needs. Working with the child’s physician, hospice nurse, social worker, case manager, or pediatric specialist, Abby’s Gift evaluates the needs of families on a case-by-case basis.
The organization helps families to cover funeral, burial, and cremation costs; home health equipment designed for pediatric use (most hospice-type medical equipment is only produced in adult sizes); household expenses so that the family can be together – not at work – during the child’s last days; and hospital travel costs such as gas and parking. Abby’s gift currently works with hospitals and hospices in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and New Mexico.
Abby’s Gift is supported solely by donations, and 100% of every gift goes directly to the children and their families. Each year near the time of Abby’s birthday the organization holds a Give-A-Thon to raise the needed funds to care for families who rely on Abby’s Gift. Donors are invited to make a one-time or recurring monthly gift from now through Monday, September 5 (Labor Day). Visit Abby’s Gift to find out how you can help.