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Baby missing part of skull defies the odds to survive after mother rejects pressure to abortion

A boy born with part of his skull missing leaving his brain only covered by skin is believed to be the first to ‘survive and thrive’ with the rare condition after his mother rejected advice to abort him.

Lucas, born at 35 weeks weighing 6lb 5oz, was not expected to live beyond just a few hours due to his exencephaly.

His mother, Maria, was immediately advised by doctors to terminate her pregnancy at just ten weeks, however, she said she couldn’t go through with the abortion.

She said her decision was “always a battle back and forth” with doctors who “didn’t give any hope at all”.

Following their decision to choose life and not abort their baby, Maria and her husband, Augusto, revealed they were handed a list of funeral homes from doctors and were advised to make arrangements.

On the day of her induction, Maria prepared her three daughters for what she thought would be their baby brother’s first and last day to meet them.

However, thanks to a pioneering operation, performed to remove fluid and damaged parts of his brain, Lucas is thought to be the first baby able to survive the condition for more than a couple of days.

Dr Vogel, who performed the procedure, said: “I had to push for the first couple days [for] the surgery to get done.”

Amazingly, Lucas’ condition stabilised and he was allowed to go home only a week after the procedure.

He is now seven months old and awaiting surgery to mould a skull over his brain, improving the appearance while further protecting his head.

Because Lucas is the first baby with exencephaly to survive so long, doctors are unsure how the condition will impact his physical and mental health as he grows older. He is otherwise healthy, and has begun to eat baby food and cereal, to the delight of his mother.

Dr Vogel and his team are determined to give the infant the best chance of survival possible. Dr Vogel said: “It’s just awesome to be a part of something that is so unique, and to really know there’s a promising future for Lucas.”

“Lucas is going to be with me for a long time,” the doctor added. “Every time I see him, it’s just so encouraging.”

His mother said, “now he is home we feel so blessed – he doesn’t need much extra care than a normal baby and we just have to make sure we are careful with his head. He came to complete our family because this is the baby boy we’ve been waiting for.”

“His sisters enjoy singing to him and kissing him,” she added.

While Lucas’ situation is unique, medical advances mean stories like his are not and continue to provide hope and a reason to choose life. The survival rate for extremely premature babies, in the UK has doubled over the past decade prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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