Boy with ‘no brain’ continues to defy expectations after parents refused abortion five times

An eight-year-old born with spina bifida and only 2% of his brain has joined the weekly #ClapForOurCarers event as he continues his remarkable progress.

Doctors did not expect Noah Wall to live more than a few days and advised his parents, Shelley and Rob Wall, to consider abortion on five separate occasions.

But they refused, wanting to give their baby boy the chance of a healthy life, and Noah has been defying expectations ever since.

Describing the day Noah was born Shelly told the Mail: “The day he was born was amazing. We waited with baited breath.”

The couple were admitted to hospital a week before Noah was due to be born because the pressure on his brain was becoming dangerous.

There were 12 doctors in the operating theatre as experts performed a caesarean section and as Noah came into the world, he gave the doctors a sign.

Rob said: “He let out this amazing scream. We knew there was power there.”

Scans of Noah’s brain shortly after his birth show he had just 2% of his brain.

Miraculously, he kept on growing and so did his brain.

By the age of three, his brain had grown to a remarkable 80 percent of what it should be and is now nearly fully-functional, leaving medical professionals stunned.

Last year, Noah, who is paralysed from the waist down, moved his foot for the first time after undergoing pioneering therapy designed to alter the way the brain sends messages to his limbs.

Now the family sends regular updates to the doctors who told them Noah wouldn’t make it.

Shelly said: “He’s extraordinary. We send them emails and pictures and we take them presents at Christmas time.”

Every year, Noah gives out hundreds of Christmas presents to staff and patients at Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle – the hospital he was born in. With more therapy, it is hopeful he will one day deliver gifts on foot.

Rob said on the documentary, The Boy Without a Brain: “We were offered termination five times. It was never an option for us. To me, we wanted to give Noah that chance of life.”

“To hear his brain’s almost back to normal is beyond belief,” Shelly added. “Rob and I broke down when we heard the news. It was like a dream. I’ve never known anything like it. Even the consultants were in tears. Every time we see the doctors, they just shake their head. They’re just amazed at what he can do.”

Claire Nicholson, Noah’s consultant neurosurgeon, said in 2016: “He has surprised us through his life so far. He’s completely remarkable.”

She added that Noah teaches the medical profession that “you can’t ever know, doesn’t matter how many statistics you throw at something”.

Noah is just one of many babies who have defied the odds. 

Estimates have predicted that 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with spina bifida, each year, are aborted.

However, pro-life campaigners are hopeful that now the surgery has been made routinely available on the NHS the number of unborn babies terminated each year will fall.

Love my NHS #ClapForOurCarers sending everyone not just in the NHS but everyone that’s helping #ThankyouNHS

Posted by Noah Wall Model on Thursday, March 26, 2020

Baby girl who had surgery in the womb celebrates first birthday, but abortion prejudices remain

A baby girl who had pioneering spina bifida surgery whilst still being in her mother’s womb has celebrated her first birthday at home.

After diagnosing Elouise with the condition last year, doctors offered her parents a termination saying the outcome was “bleak”.

Her parents, Kieron and Bethan Simpson, refused to have an abortion and now Elouise, who is described as “happy and smiley” by her mother, is thriving.

The Simpsons were overjoyed when they found out they were expecting a baby, but were left disheartened when a midwife discovered their baby had a disability during the 20-week scan.

However, two days later, a specialist at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) told the couple about the possibility of a ground-breaking new surgery.

“There was a bit of hope in that darkness,” Bethan said.

The mental health nurse underwent a four-hour operation at 25 weeks, during which her womb was opened and a series of tiny stitches were used to close the gap in Elouise’s spine.

Bethan and Elouise were among the first in the UK to undergo the procedure in January 2019. The successful surgery was funded by a charitable trust between UCLH and Great Ormond Street Hospital, before the NHS made it routinely available in April last year.

Bethan said her daughter’s regular progress checks had been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak but said Elouise is developing normally and is thriving at home.

She told the BBC: “We certainly didn’t expect we’d be marking today in the middle of a pandemic.”

The couple say their priority now is to “shield” Elouise while keeping home life “normal and fun.”

Bethan also raised concerns that pregnant women are being misinformed on spina bifida.

“Since becoming a mum I’ve had the chance to reflect on that traumatic time. My only option was to fight. But most importantly, it was about being informed.”

“There is a lot of negative information around spina bifida.”

“Without being fully informed as parents, Elouise would not be where she is now.”

Her concerns were shared by a mother who described the relentless pressure she faced to have an abortion after doctors diagnosed her baby with spina bifida last year.

Natalie Halson, who refused an abortion ten times, said doctors “made out like an abortion was my only option and explained that if I went ahead with the pregnancy my baby would be wheelchair bound and have no quality of life.”

“When I got off the phone I went and did tonnes of research and found out that there were options for my little girl – I felt suddenly really angry that they had made out I had none.”

Similar concerns have been raised by parents of children with Down’s syndrome.

A survey of over 1,400 parents revealed many are being misinformed and misled over the condition and in some cases are being pressured into abortion only days away from giving birth.

One mother, whose child is now three-years-old, said medical professionals told her they could leave her baby with Down’s syndrome to die if it was struggling after birth.

Under UK legislation, babies affected by Down’s syndrome and spina bifida can be aborted right up to birth.

This includes Northern Ireland, where an extreme abortion law has been imposed on the province.

In England and Wales – where abortion is available up until birth if a baby has a disability – people with disabilities are unjustly and disproportionately targeted by abortion legislation.

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

Additionally, estimates predict 80% of unborn babies diagnosed with spina bifida, each year, are aborted.

Northern Ireland had a very different approach and embraced a culture of welcoming and supporting people with this disability 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 the same year, only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales.

Northern Ireland MLAs have called for an opportunity to introduce new legislation to repeal the new extreme abortion regime.

Additionally, Right To Life UK has launched its Save Lives: Repeal campaign urging Northern Ireland’s politicians to save lives by repealing the extreme abortion regime.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson has said: “The revelations of women who experience daily the lives of those with Down’s syndrome, spina bifida and other disabilities should be listened to.”

“Currently, women are making life or death decisions influenced by outdated and prejudiced views on disability.

“Expectant women are sometimes not given accurate information about the reality of life with these conditions and  there are stories of doctors suggesting ‘abortion is the only option’.” 

“We call on MLAs in Northern Ireland to save lives by bringing forward legislation as soon as possible to repeal the extreme abortion regime which allows for disability-selective abortion right up to birth.”

Premature twin girls thriving after doctor suggested leaving them to die

A mother has criticised doctors who refused to give her care and said she should let her twin daughters die when she went into labour at 22 weeks.

Kayla Ibarra and her twin daughters, Luna and Ema, are now thriving at home with their older brother Noah and father Dardo.

One year on, revealing their story on her blog, the mother-of-three said the twins are “‘typical one-year-olds’ and no one would even know they were born 18 weeks premature.”

Kayla and Dardo were already parents to 18-month old Noah when they decided they would like to have another child. Both were delighted months later to find out they were expecting twin girls.

Kayla said the pregnancy felt “normal” until she noticed a small spot of blood when she went to the toilet. She called her midwife who recommended she went into hospital to make sure she didn’t have a bladder infection.

The pregnant mother rushed to hospital but had to wait four hours before seeing anyone because the nurses had “forgot” she was there.

When Kayla did eventually see a nurse, she was rushed into a backroom for a urine test and then called downstairs for an ultrasound.  

When the urine test came back clean, the mother burst into tears because she “knew this was labour.”

She continued: “I started bawling my eyes out as I was finally wheeled to the ultrasound room.

“While getting the exam done, I kept telling the tech I was having contractions. She kept telling me to relax and all would be fine. I stood up and BAM, my water broke.”

Through tears a concerned Kayla asked, “what’s going to happen to my daughters?”.

As she was pushed in a wheelchair to an upstairs room of the hospital, a nurse responded, “the babies will be born today and they will die.” 

By the time Kayla was taken back upstairs, her whole family was there waiting for her. They asked the nurse, “what do we do, what can we do?”.

However the nurse again said that “there is nothing that can be done, the twins will be born today and they will die.”

Realising they wouldn’t get the care or help Kayla and her family wanted for her twins, the family began to search for alternative hospitals with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) who would give her unborn twins a chance at life.

The family found a hospital in Ontario that was willing to help premature babies from 24 weeks, but her doctor refused to transfer Kayla to the new hospital and even refused to administer medication for her pain.

Furthermore, the doctor refused to allow Kayla to see her twins or hear their heartbeats dismissing the plea as a “waste of time,” instead saying “this [the labour] is going to be quick, let’s get it over with.'”

However, Kayla’s contractions stopped and her doctor agreed to let her rest.

Despite the fact her labour had stopped, a new doctor who had been assigned to Kayla urged her to deliver the twins the following morning through an induced labour.

However, knowing they wouldn’t intervene to save her twin girls, Kayla said: “I told him I refused to start labour again and as long as the twins are in me they are breathing and safe. He also denied me medication that would help the twins lung and brain develop.

Four days later, a shattered Kayla went into labour again at 22 weeks and two days – which was four days too early for the nearby hospital to intervene.

“I felt so defeated. I lost,” Kayla said.

Fortunately, a new doctor had been assigned to Kayla just as midwives were setting up the delivery room.

The doctor thought it was worth calling the hospital in Ontario who agreed to take the premature babies on.

Recalling the moment, Kayla said: “I felt hope. Finally, someone was going to just call and see. Within 15 minutes, he was back in my room coat on and said, ‘two hospitals agreed to take you… Soon, we were racing down the highway.”

Within hours, Kayla had given birth to Luna and Ema.

The twins barely weighed 1lb when they were born and spent a total of 115 days in the NICU, but they recovered remarkably well and were able to go home before their original due date.

Kayla said her twins have changed her life forever and she now wants the world to know premature babies can survive and can thrive.

“We went from a 0% chance of survival to celebrating over one year of life,” she added.

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 – the age of Kayla’s now healthy and thriving twins.

The previous clinical guidance, drafted in 2008, included a presumption against attempting to provide life-saving treatment to a baby born before 23 weeks, on the basis it would not be in the child’s best interests.

In 2008 only two out of ten babies born alive at 23 weeks went on to survive. Today it is four out of ten, according to a new analysis from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine.

Furthermore, the majority of premature babies grow up to be healthy adults without any major health problems, a study revealed last year.

In a Facebook post post, Kayla recalled what a doctor said to her on day 65 of the girls’ NICU stay:

“The girls really have changed the way we view micropreemies here and in particular 22 weekers. It’s because of them that we have put certain protocols in place when dealing with micros and we have learned so much do’s and don’t’s from the girls. They have taught us so much and because of them, other 22 weekers will have the chance in our hospital. You did that, the girls did that.”

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“Stories of premature babies fighting and thriving, like Luna and Ema, along with recent new guidance and advances in medicine, showcase why this issue is one that Parliament should urgently revisit. It has been over a decade since time limits were last debated fully in Parliament in 2008. 

“Independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below. Our current abortion time limit is way out of line with the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks.

“We support any change in law that would help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies in the womb.”

Mothers of babies with Down’s syndrome pressured to abort, Australian disability inquiry hears

The mothers of children with Down’s syndrome are revealing the pressure they are put under by medics, often while in an emotional state, to abort their unborn babies with the condition. 

The alarming testimonies were heard by Australia’s Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability as it began a two-week hearing on how individuals with a cognitive disability experience healthcare in the country. 

Toni Mitchell, from Toowoomba, says she’s had to continually justify the life of her son Joshua, who has Down’s syndrome and autism, to healthcare professionals.

Speaking to the Commission, Toni shared how one doctor assumed she would have an abortion when her Joshua was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome following a routine ultrasound scan.

After being told she was having a boy, a senior doctor told Toni it was highly likely her baby would have Down’s syndrome and could miscarry within several weeks.

While Toni was still crying the man said, “Here’s your appointment for a termination”, she said, and he gave her a piece of paper. 

“That was our introduction to it and it set the whole tone for Joshy’s life”, Toni said. 

“In that moment, they completely disallowed his life. They said he wasn’t worth living.”

Toni told the commission that she threw the paper in the bin.

“That was the moment I had to start justifying my son’s right to live and to be treated and I had to start justifying his value to be alive,” she said.

“For the whole rest of my pregnancy… they kept saying, you don’t understand what you’re doing.

“You don’t understand the immensity of bringing a child like this into the world, you don’t understand what a burden this is going to be on you and on society and your family.

“They kept just judging us based on my decision to give him a chance at life.”

Rebecca Kelly, whose son Ryan has Down syndrome, told the Commission that in the model of Australia’s health system “if you can’t cure it … then you eradicate it.”

“If you think that person’s life is a tragedy and that they suffer from this condition then you start to believe that it’s an act of kindness or that it’s a responsible act to do all you can to prevent that birth, and that becomes quite coercive,” she added.

However, likeToni experienced, Rebecca revealed the problems didn’t end with abortion pressure. 

Rebecca stated: “if you have a doctor [who] thinks that possibly your life’s going to be a little bit better if your child doesn’t make it because they’re taking that burden away from you, that has horrible implications for the level of care that you don’t get.”

The Royal Commission was established in April 2019 and will seek to provide an interim report by October 2020, and a final report by April 2022. It is hoped the report will lead to better healthcare for those with disabilities and more support for parents of children with disabilities. 

Last year, it was revealed pregnant mothers in the UK were facing similar pressure to abort children with Down’s syndrome. 

Research by Positive About Down Syndrome (PADS) shows that even after being offered an abortion and informing medical professionals that they wished to keep their baby, 46 percent of mothers were asked again if they wanted to abort.

Figures published just one month later found that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome has dropped by 30% in NHS hospitals that have introduced new non-invasive prenatal tests, adding weight to the study conducted by PADS.