Disabled baby so ill his parents bought a coffin has now passed first birthday

Shelly Wall rebuffed advice to abort baby Noah, who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
Mon May 20, 2013 - 3:18 pm EST

May 20, 2013 ( – When Shelly Wall was told during her 12-week ultrasound that her son Noah had spina bifida and hydrocephalus, she was advised to have an abortion. Yet Wall determined to choose life for her child, even though he might not survive.


Wall, 41, and her husband Robert, 47, of Abbytown, Cumbria, prepared for the worst. “Before he was born we received a letter saying he would not be resuscitated if he couldn’t breathe on his own because his condition was so serious,” says Wall to the Daily Mail.

They decided to buy a coffin for their unborn son in preparation for a funeral.

“To be pregnant and have to go to a funeral parlor to pick a coffin for your unborn child is absolutely horrible,” she says.

“It was like talking about another baby; like it was happening to someone else,” says Wall.

With spina bifida the back vertebrae overlying the spinal cord do not fully form. As a result, a section of the spinal cord protrudes through.

Hydrocephalus is a condition in which a large amount of fluid accumulates in the brain, causing a host of complications, even death in severe cases.

“I had actually miscarried the year before we had Noah, and that shows you how much he was wanted,” says Wall. “You should never give up. If you have got determination and positivity, you can get through anything.”

Wall gave birth to Noah on March 6 of last year. He was born paralyzed from the chest down. Yet he defied expectations when he took his first breath and began crying.

The doctors had not expected him to breathe on his own and were not planning on taking him to the baby care unit as they claimed keeping a baby alive on oxygen is cruel. But when it quickly became clear he could breathe independently, they changed their minds.

A five hour operation was done to fix the hole in his spinal cord.

Not only did Noah survive, but he has surpassed all expectations by reaching his first birthday.

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“It is amazing the things he can do ..., says Wall. “He folds his arms, opens his eyes, waves to you, says “mama” and “dada.” Additionally, he has attempted crawling and holding his head up.

“He is an absolute gift, and we are very lucky that he is here,” says Wall.

She and her husband, along with their two daughters, know that each moment with Noah is precious.

Wall states, “We don’t know how long he will live, but we won’t put a time on him. We just enjoy every day and do as much as we can with him.”

In the meantime, they are having his legs prepared for the possibility of standing on his own. Wall runs a shop which raises money and awareness of spina bifida.

“By telling our story,” says Wall, “we want to inspire others who are pregnant with disabled babies not to give up hope.”

  birth defects, culture of life

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