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Baby Born with Brain Outside His Skull Was Given No Hope, But He's Thriving

The Short of It

Ohio parents who were given no hope that their baby would survive are now raising a thriving 7-month-old.

The Lowdown

Bentley Yoder was born with encephalocele, which means part of his brain grew outside of his skull, and it has no known cause.

His mom, Sierra, whose pregnancy was completely normal, was about five months pregnant when doctors informed her there was no chance her baby would live.

"We were never really given hope," Sierra told The Washington Post. So along with her husband, Dustin they decided to end the pregnancy.

But the night before the procedure, they had a change of heart.

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The parents were then told that when Bentley was born, he'd basically just be a "shell" and they wouldn't know when he was hungry or what he needed; he might not even breathe. So they went to the hospital to deliver their son without bottles or a car seat, believing they'd be going home alone. They had even been given brochures about planning his funeral. But, "he came out kicking and screaming," his mom recalls.

At home, Bentley continued to thrive, but doctors still weren't optimistic. The baby did suffer from several health complications, including respiratory issues and staph infections.

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Still, his parents were focused on Bentley's future. They went through several surgeons before they found neurosurgeon Mark Proctor at Boston Children's Hospital, who believed the boy had one.

Proctor's team determined part of Bentley's brain was inside his skull, and he was using it, but the other part would not fit inside his current cranium, so they'd need to expand it. A five-hour surgery later, and the 5-month-old was in recovery.

"He was awake; he was looking at us. He wasn't cranky. He was just lying there, taking it all in," his mom says.

The Upshot

Now a month later, the little guy is doing well. But what the future holds for him is unknown. Yoder explains, "Because of how different his brain really is, they have no one to compare him to." But doctors believe, "he will have a rewarding life. We just have to take it step by step."

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Bentley truly is a miracle baby, but he also has amazing parents, who believed in their son no matter what doctors told them. Here's hoping this courageous boy and his family, which also includes an older brother, Beau, enjoy the amazing life his mom and dad saw for him, even before he took his first breath.

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