Born with spina bifida, doctors gave her 60 seconds to live. Now she’s turning 60
August 5, 2020 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) — A woman, whom doctors believed would die within seconds of being born, has defied all odds and she is preparing to celebrate her 60th birthday. “We wish Carmel many happy returns,” said Michael Robinson, SPUC Director of Communications. “But let’s not forget those unborn children whose future is snatched away by abortion because of a disability diagnosis, and who will never have a birthday. Many people with disabilities achieve their goals and lead a life of satisfaction and happiness. Each person deserves a chance to live, regardless of ability.”
Carmel Proctor was diagnosed with a severe form of spina bifida called myelomeningocele when she was born in Doncaster on August 8th 1960.
Carmel’s parents were told by doctors that her spina bifida was so severe, she would die within seconds. 60 years later, Carmel who is now a medical secretary, continues to defy doctor’s predications as she prepares to celebrate her 60th birthday.
118 babies with spina bifida aborted in 2019
SPUC’s Mr Robinson said: “During 2019 in England and Wales, 3,863 unborn children were killed by abortion for possessing a foetal anomaly. 118 of these unborn children, like Carmel, had spina bifida.
“Stories such as Carmel’s prove that a doctor’s prediction is not always correct. Carmel received her chance to live, but so many others like her do not.
“It is vital that our country’s barbaric abortion law is abolished and the basic right to life for all people, regardless of ability, is restored.”
“I was not expected to last 60 seconds”
Reflecting on her uncertain start in life, Carmel said: “I was very poorly. So much so, my parents would tell me later that I was not expected to last 60 seconds.
"My mum’s GP was called by her midwife to come see me after I was born at home. She had heard of a doctor at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who was doing some pioneering treatment for patients with spina bifida. Two days later, I was in the operating theatre.”
Carmel was treated at the hospital by a specialist surgeon and underwent medical check-ups until she was 16 years old.
In celebration of her 60 birthday, Carmel is arranging a sponsored event to fundraise for the hospital which cared for her as a child.
Medical advances improving treatment for spina bifida
Since Carmel’s birth in 1960, advances in medicine and technology have meant that the outlook for those diagnosed with spina bifida has improved.
Currently, in utero surgery can treat a number of foetal health conditions including spina bifida.
Earlier this year, as reported by SPUC, baby Elouise Simpson celebrated her first birthday after undergoing in utero spinal surgery to treat her spina bifida.
Similarly, in May 2019 doctors performed key-hole surgery on an unborn baby with spina bifida. Unborn baby, Jaxon, received the operation at just 27 weeks gestation, and as a result had the ability to move his legs after being born six weeks later.
Despite the outlook for those diagnosed with spina bifida improving significantly, an estimated 80% of mothers abort children diagnosed with spina bifida, which affects roughly four in 10,000 pregnancies.
Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.