Maria Santa Maria of Garfield, New Jersey, was told by her physician to have her third child aborted because he may not live beyond birth. It was discovered during her first ultrasound that part of the baby’s skull was missing and that his chance of survival was none.
Maria said she was crushed when she learned that her baby may not make it out alive. If he does, she and her family may only have a few minutes with him before he dies. Her son was diagnosed with exencephaly, a rare condition in which a child’s skull is not fully formed so the brain tissues are exposed and the chances of brain damage are high.
The mom-of-three refused the abortion and went on ahead with the delivery at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey. She and her husband had prepared for the worst and even arranged for a funeral home and had their daughters come over to bid their brother goodbye.
However, God had other plans for baby Lucas. Hours passed and he was breathing on his own and even eating. He was alive longer than expected for other babies with his condition. When Dr. Tim Vogel, director of pediatric neurosurgery at the North Jersey Brain and Spine Center heard about Lucas, he suggested performing surgery in order to remove the damaged part of the baby’s brain to reduce the likeliness of seizures and further brain damage.
Thankfully, the surgery was a success and Lucas was sent home a few weeks later without what looked like a water balloon on his head (fluid sac), which Vogel said would be fatal if it ruptures.
Now Lucas is seven months and is cooing and eating. He is developing like any other babies his age: eating cereals, baby food, and even coos to his mom. As Lucas’ bone develops, Vogel will shave a layer to fill in sunken areas to protect brain tissue.
“I think he’s exceeded our expectation. The fact that when we see him and he’s eating, trying to crawl, getting physical therapy — it’s kind of an unwritten fast-forward. Lucas is going to be with me for a long time. Every time I see him, it’s just so encouraging,” Vogel told CNN.
As for Maria and her husband Augusto, they are enjoying every moment they get to spend with their miracle baby. She called her son’s survival as a sign of hope for other children with the same rare condition or those struggling through insurmountable diagnoses.
“I wanted them to meet their baby brother before he had passed and thank God that time never came,” Maria told Good Morning America.
“Moms always say, ‘Even if we had him for five minutes, it was all worth it.’ Thanks to God we got so much more than that,” she added.
Maria is beyond relieved and thankful to God for giving Lucas a chance at life. They don’t know how long he has to live but they lift everything to God and his mercy.