A young couple in Iowa were told their unborn baby would be born with semilobar holoprosencephaly, a condition in which the brain’s hemispheres only partially divide, and suggested they get an abortion. The young Christian couple refused.
Doctors told Drew and Ariann Corpstein at just 23 weeks gestation, that there was no hope their baby would survive and would more than likely die before birth. The couple’s doctors recommended to abort or induce early labor and let their son die, but the couple had already suffered through one miscarriage and refused to abort the baby-instead they began to make plans to say goodbye to their son.
The couple wrote on their GoFundMe page:
“During our 20 week ultrasound, which led to several others and a MRI quickly following, the doctors discovered that our baby was missing most of his/her brain. And instead of a brain, it was replaced with cerebral spinal fluid. The fluid was going to continue to expand the head of our baby. The head size was measuring about 3 weeks ahead of normal. We were told our baby wouldn’t live past several days, if not hours, or die before birth. The diagnosis given was semilobar holoprosencephaly, and the prognosis for these cases are very bleak. Essentially since half way through our pregnancy, we have been preparing to bury our precious little one, and spend as much time as possible with him or her as we could.”
They decided to spend the remaining weeks of the pregnancy celebrating the time God gave them with their son, writing on the GoFundMe page, “While still pregnant, we tried to do as many memory-making things along the way like: baby’s first motorcycle ride, baby’s first vacation, and other fun things to fill our hearts with happiness instead of focusing purely on the sadness that would inevitably come. ”
On July 27, 2018, the Corpsteins were told they would need to induce labor since the baby’s head was now measuring 4-5 weeks ahead of schedule. After two days of labor, the young couple welcomed baby Matthew James into the world on July 29, 2018. Baby Matthew was born regulating his own heartbeat and instinctively began to nurse. His parents had expected him to be born deaf and blind with no ability to feel pain, they were shocked to see baby Matthew respond to voices, light and touch.
When the couple agreed to an MRI, it showed that Matthew had been misdiagnosed in the womb. He had hydrocephalus, a condition that causes extra fluid on the brain. His brain tissue was in tact, as were the hemispheres, but he did need emergency surgery to place a shunt in his brain and drain off the excess fluid that would allow his brain tissue to expand normally to where it should be.
“We simply couldn’t believe what we were hearing! We had prepared for the last 4 to 5 months of not bringing a baby home, of using hospice and end of life care, and now suddenly Matthew’s chances of survival are high and having a fully functioning life could be possible,” they wrote on Facebook. “It’s like buying a lottery ticket and actually winning the jackpot! We were overjoyed, and I just still can’t put into words how we feel about the amazing news. We know God was protecting us and our beautiful baby boy, and we had put our faith in His hands, come whatever may.”
Although Matthew is at risk for neurological impacts, learning disabilities and motor skill delays, his condition is manageable and he may have no disabilities whatsoever. Matthew went home with his parents on August 4th, after spending less than a week in the hospital. The couple later learned that Ariann, Matthews mother, cannot absorb B12 and folate properly, which can lead to issues, including that of hydrocephalus.
The incredibly adorable baby that was nicknamed “Matthew the Great,” is currently back in the hospital fighting meningitis but is said to be doing well. Doctors said Matthew was misdiagnosed with the brain malformation because it is so difficult to correctly diagnosis babies prenatally.
“When you’re using imaging technology, like an MRI, on a baby that’s inside the mom’s uterus, you’re looking at something that’s very small and very far away,” Dr. Jona Conklin, a perinatologist who worked with the Corpsteins told the Des Moines Register. “If you’re trying to look for a heart defect, for example, you’re looking for something that’s about the size of a quarter or half-dollar through all the tissue that’s part of the mom’s body and fetus’ body.”
The question is, if it’s so difficult to diagnose babies in the womb, why are so many doctors so quick to recommend aborting the babies?
“A good friend called him Matthew The Great for being such a miracle, and that’s exactly what he is,” the couple said. “He is our little miracle. A boy who wasn’t supposed to be born alive, much less do anything else, has showed us that God is protecting us and blessing us beyond anything we can imagine.”
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