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Couple Offered to Terminate Defied Doctor’s Warnings

Becky Weatherall and her partner Kriss Kramer who had defied doctors’ advice to terminate their baby are now the proud parents of a bouncing baby boy called Brandon.

Doctors at the Foetal Medicine Unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff suspected the baby had Downs Syndrome.  After further tests they diagnosed a condition in which the brain fuses together called rhomboencephalosynapsis.  Brandon was also diagnosed with a swollen head and hydrocephalus (water on the brain).  This condition is known to cause learning difficulties as well as behavioural problems. 

During pregnancy, every new test taken showed his condition was worsening and Dr Cathy White from the University Hospital of Wales wrote after an examination "rhomboencephalosynapsis is an extraordinarily rare congenital abnormality and this, therefore, makes it very difficult to predict the long-term outcome for this baby.

"I have explained to them [the parents] that children with this condition are likely to be profoundly handicapped with severe physical and learning disabilities and will be totally dependent for the whole of their life.

"They often need the level of care given to babies for the whole of their lives."

Becky and Kriss could not go through with the termination and prepared themselves for the worse when doctors warned them that their baby would be born deaf and blind and would survive for only a couple of hours.

The last scan taken was two weeks before the birth and the results showed his swollen head measurements was off the scale for normal babies

Born Healthy and Naturally

Brandon was born naturally in October where he was whisked off to be cared for by a team of specialists in the intensive care unit.  After being given a thorough examination he was given the all-clear.

Mum and dad say "the fact that he is here now, alive and kicking, truly is a miracle.  The doctors say that he has defied all the odds but it's really more than that because he wasn't given any odds at all. He was written off completely and we believed he was 100 per cent certain to be handicapped."

Becky, 23, said: "I feel incredibly guilty thinking that I could have killed him – and then I find myself wondering how many other babies are killed who would have turned out to be completely healthy.”

"We had prepared to spend Christmas without him – we thought we'd be planning a funeral. Instead, it was the best Christmas present ever and now we're having a christening."

Telling Their Story May Help Others

The couple say they will not be claiming compensation but will use their story more of a way to highlight the warnings to others.

Hospital chiefs have ordered a full and urgent review into the case to try and ascertain if Brandon had in fact recovered from the condition before being born – or if staff misinterpreted the data.

Becky said: "Perhaps doctors shouldn't put so much confidence in scans.  One of the older doctors we spoke to said a scan is like a fuzzy image of a snowstorm – it cannot be relied upon – and he turned out to be right."

Brandon is now teething and trying to speak a few words.  His development is not slow in any way and his MRS scans have shown his brain to be normal and fully functional.

A spokesman for the British Paediatric Neurology Association said: 'MRI scans for babies have been a very recent development.

"But the problem is that it's hard to go from what the brain looks like to how it's going to work.

"Just because you have an abnormality in a scan doesn't mean your baby will turn out abnormally."

This rare condition is seen as little as three of four cases every ten years and all of them have been diagnosed after birth, except for baby Brandon.

Rhomboencephalosynapsis affects fewer than one in a million people worldwide and it is believed this is the first time in Britain that the condition has been diagnosed while a baby was still in the womb.