A soon to be mother, Shelly Wall excitedly entered the premise of the hospital building in Cumbria, England. She caressed the small bump on her belly as Shelly took note of how much it grew week by week. Today marked as her 20th week of being pregnant, and her heart was leaping in excitement for the scheduled ultrasound. She couldn’t wait to see the image of her little one! But Shelly had no idea that her scan would lead to a frightening discovery.
Her head was still in the clouds that Shelly didn’t notice the change of expression of her obstetrician’s face. After the session, the doctor printed her ultrasound, and hastily left the room. The soon-to-be-mother was just ecstatic to show the image to her friends and family. However, when her obstetrician walked into the room again, Shelly’s face immediately fell.
The doctor told her to relax as she had something important to say to her. Shelly’s instinct started to kick in and sensed that it was not going to be good news. Her obstetrician took a lungful of breath and deliberately told Shelly that the baby inside her belly was facing a critical condition.
Her heart immediately shattered when she heard the words of the doctor. Thousands of questions rummaged through her head, but it seemed like Shelly lost her ability to speak. The obstetrician explained that her child diagnosed with a congenital disability called spina bifida, where his brain and spinal cord weren’t fully close. Unfortunately, that was not the only problem.
Because of the child’s underdeveloped brain, he was bound to have disabilities and cause some danger to his nerves. They also noticed that the skull had enlarged because it filled with liquid, which was another condition called hydrocephalus. With the child’s current situation, the doctor couldn’t predict if he would survive the moment he went out of Shelly’s womb.
Studies showed that hydrocephalus had a high mortality rate. The child might also face trouble in breathing since the condition was affecting his brain. Shelly felt tears rolled down her cheeks as she couldn’t help but feel sorry for her unborn baby. But a mother shouldn’t give up her child so easily. She knew that her baby was still fighting to live, and she would do her best to provide the life he deserved. So Shelly held into the small glint of hope until the most awaited day came.
On the 6th of March 2012, Shelly felt a contraction on her stomach and immediately rushed to the hospital. The doctors found the child’s head grew bigger, so they had to operate a cesarean delivery. With every pain that dominated her entire being, Shelly let out a loud cry. She took huge breaths with her eyes shut close. The mother didn’t know if she was ready to face the truth in any minute now.
Shelly felt her eyelids getting heavier. She didn’t waste any second and repeatedly prayed for her child to be alive before she let herself submerge in complete darkness. The medical team began the operation and handled everything with extra care, considering how delicate the unborn baby was. With one mistake, they could end a child’s life. Time went by, and every beep of the monitor felt like a ticking bomb. And at 6:17 in the evening, an unexpected sound resonated with the whole operating room.
It was a scream from Shelly’s baby! He was alive! However, the surgeons knew that it was too early to celebrate because the real problem was just about to begin. The doctor detected that the child’s complications risen and their medical team had to perform a double operation right on the spot.
The doctor placed a – a passage inside the baby’s skull. Its purpose was to drain the excess liquid and ease the pressure on his head. After another grueling hour, the entire operation was successful. However, when it was time to scan the baby, the doctors were taken aback from their new findings!
Shelly woke up on the hospital bed, and her eyes quickly landed to her husband, Rob Walls, who had a massive smile on his face. He told her the good news, and she had to pinch herself many times to grip from reality. The couple decided to name their child Noah as they began planning their life with him. But before they could rejoice any further, the doctor stepped into the room with another heartbreaking news.
Indeed, the child fought his way to see the outside world. However, Noah still had many battles to go because the doctor found out that his brain was only two percent. Meaning, Noah couldn’t function like an average child but fortunate enough to eat, breathe, and drink. But instead of taking the news negatively, Shelly continued to believe that Noah was her biggest miracle, especially that the doctor informed them that the child still had his brain stem intact. Although the bad news didn’t last long because three years later, Noah had his second scan.
Noah grew up fighter and a loving child. Shelly and Rob took him to therapies and made numerous trips to the hospital. “Whenever something knocks him back he finds the ability to get through it,” Shelly stated. When Noah turned three, he was appointed to have his second scan. The couple wasn’t really expecting anything because they only prayed for their son’s condition could not get worst.
The results baffled everyone because another miracle just happened! His doctor informed the couple that Noah’s brain had grown from two percent to 80 percent! The shunt that they operated back when he was born made a huge contribution to his brain development because it gave more room for his brain to grow. The couple couldn’t ask for more after hearing the good news. However, Noah’s development was just getting started…
Four years later, Noah was slowly becoming like any normal kid. He had been in a regular brain training where he would take physical and mental exercises. According to Shelly, “Noah’s doing amazingly well—he can write, he knows how to spell his name, he can hold a conversation,” The couple was proud of how far their son had come. Except there was one fact about Noah that the doctors couldn’t even explain.
They didn’t expect the child to gain such abilities because a part of his brain called the cerebral cortex was totally compressed. The cortex enabled the person to move its muscles, understand language, receive and process information, and possess the five senses. So when Noah learned to write and read, the doctors were bewildered!
The world’s most complex object was the human brain. Because there were still unsolved mysteries that neuroscience couldn’t explain – and Noah’s case was one of the hundreds. His cognitive flexibility left the experts in awe. “This amazing little son of ours has defied the doctor’s in so many ways,” Shelly wrote from Noah’s website.
Although Noah still paralyzed from below his waist, it didn’t stop him from taking so many hobbies. The couple noticed how he was so into the color blue, Mario Kart game, animals, watching movies, cooking, painting, and building Lego. And as time goes by, Noah’s determination to get better was really paying off.
People around him knew that Noah was emotionally intelligent as he could converse with different kinds of people from children to his 104-year old auntie. Noah didn’t also display any signs of anxiousness whenever he was talking to a mass of people. Noah was confident, outgoing, and he loves bringing a smile to everyone!
The child still had a long way to go. But the doctors were certain that his brain didn’t stop growing, which gave Noah more chances to improve. Right now, he could move his big toe and lift one leg! Every day was another chance for Noah to develop, and the couple was beyond grateful. Shelly then said from an interview, “I thank him every night before he goes to bed. I say ‘Noah, thank you for such a lovely day. I’ve loved my day.’ And he’ll say ‘I love you, Mummy. Night night.'”