The heartbreaking story of a newborn boy who became the youngest organ donor in the world has inspired thousands of people in the United Kingdom to follow in his lead and sign up for organ donation as well.
When Jess Evans and Mike Houlston learned their son Teddy had died after having only lived for about 100 minutes following his birth in April, the young couple decided to donate their child's heart valves and kidneys to help save someone else's life.
News about Teddy's tragic life and his parents' decision to donate his organs to save others spread through social media, prompting many people to sign up and become organ donors in the hopes of helping to extend the lives of others.
From the time Teddy's story was first reported in April until August of this year, the National Health Service revealed that 526,712 people in the U.K. have signed up for the agency's Organ Donor Register. This figure is more than 100,000 higher compared with the 414,426 people who registered for the organ donation program during the same period last year.
Teddy's father, Mike, said that they are dumbfounded by the public's response to their son's story. He said they are very proud of Teddy's heroic legacy.
Mike and his partner Jess are set to receive a special recognition from the British news website the Mirror for their act of charity.
Jess said that she is amazed at the large number of people who signed up for organ donation.
While losing their newborn son Teddy to anencephaly, a rare birth defect that prevents the brain and skull from developing, will leave a hole in their family, she said that seeing what a big difference their son has made makes their loss easier.
In a survey of 2,000 individuals conducted by the NHS Blood and Transplant, researchers discovered that around 12 million people in the U.K. are aware of Teddy Houlston's story.
Out of the total number of people asked, around 47 percent, or 5 million respondents, claimed that the story made them consider whether they want to donate their organs after they die.
Around 37 percent, or more than 4 million, of the survey participants said that it helped make them think about whether they would donate the organs of their own children or babies.
Senior officials of the National Health Service said that this is a significant development because 193 of the 6,912 patients currently in line to receive an organ transplant are children.
Despite admitting that they cannot prove beyond doubt that story of Teddy is solely responsible for the increase in the number of organ donation volunteers, NHS officials said that its impact is indeed unprecedented.