Too Stunned To Speak
The nurse looked at the physician. She gripped the copy of the scan tightly in her hands. The whole room was eager to see what the results were. However, the nurse was too stunned to hand them the results. Concern spread all over her face.
She became alert when they shouted out to her. But after what he witnessed, he completely understood her disbelief.
The Perfect Life
Shelly and Rob Wall lived the perfect life. The North West England residents were happily married with two beautiful daughters. They shared a love that some people only dreamed of.
They believed they were good parents and prioritized love and kindness in their house. With all the love they had to give, they knew that there was one more thing they could do to complete their lives.
It seemed to be the perfect time to expand their family. After many discussions, Shelley finally became pregnant. The whole family was so excited, and they all hoped that the newest addition would be a boy.
Rob wanted someone to play football with, as his daughters never showed any interest in the sport. Once they entered the doctor’s office, however, everything was different.
Not The First Time
When a woman becomes pregnant, it is important to get regular checkups to ensure that everything is going smoothly. The health of the mother and the child needed to be properly monitored.
Shelley and Rob were no strangers to this; it was their third pregnancy, after all. But then something would come up that they had never seen before.
Not Good News
The following doctor’s visit did not go as expected. It appeared that the child Shelley was carrying had a brain defect. He possessed only 2% of his brain.
The pair determined what they wanted to do right away after hearing the news. There was not even a hint of hesitancy.
Poor Quality Of Life
Rob and Shelley were heartbroken. It was clear to them that their child’s life would be significantly worse than they anticipated. The doctor outlined the boy’s expected life. A birth defect Noah had was spina bifida, which caused him to have no brain matter.
This indicated that his spinal cord wasn’t fully formed. However, the doctor then made a startling suggestion.
Following that, the doctor felt that an abortion was the right course of action. There is no doubt that Shelley or any mother in this position would be faced with a very difficult decision.
They explained that Noah would need a 24-hour caregiver, and his life expectancy would be short. They wanted their child to live a fulfilling life, and that would not be it.
They Made Their Decision
There was a lot of thought and consideration required on the couple’s part. Their girls’ happy faces greeted them as soon as they got home. The news was too painful to break.
Their children were their lives, and they did not want to see them upset. This was the answer Shelley and Rob were looking for. In this way, the world would be enriched with a new life.
No Turning Back
The possibility of abortion might have crossed their minds in their younger years. The couple knew, however, after having two daughters, that they would love their children regardless of their characteristics. She was advised to have an abortion five times during her pregnancy.
Rob stood by Shelley as she maintained her composure. Even after learning about the difficult realities of raising Noah, they stood by their choice and didn’t turn around.
Hoping For The Best
Shelley didn’t have the slightest hesitation about her choice. She carried the child to term. Now, there was no turning back. The odds were against them from the beginning.
However, the couple hoped and prayed that their child would be able to survive. They were wise to place their faith in him.
Fighting The Odds
On March 6, 2012, Noah came into the world via c-section. Shelley knew what to expect. Doctors had warned the family that their son would be paralyzed from the chest down and could be born with other abnormalities.
Despite her fears, Shelley couldn’t wait to meet her son for the first time. There were 12 doctors in the operating theatre, but as he came into the world, they were given a sign.
A Little Fighter
Noah let out a big, healthy scream the moment he was born, letting his parents know that he had arrived.
To give him a fighting chance, a doctor placed a shunt in Noah’s skull to drain the excess fluid and relieve the pressure on his brain tissue. His parents could only wait and see how he developed.
Shelley and Rob had no expectations for Noah in the early days of his life. They were simply happy that their boy was healthy and happy.
What’s more, Noah was able to breathe, eat, and drink because his brain stem was intact. He was paralyzed from the waist down but this never seemed to affect his mood. He was a happy little boy. It made Shelley and Rob wonder how Noah could be thriving with so little of his brain.
Leaps And Bounds
Noah was developing at a rate that could hardly be explained. Before his birth, doctors warned that he would have severe special needs.
Yet he was coming on three years old and didn’t seem to be behind most kids his age. He was aware of everything going on around him, appeared emotionally intelligent, and he was even starting to talk. Another trip to the doctor’s office was required.
A Second Look
With Noah collecting milestones like leaves from a tree, his parents wanted to know how his brain looked. A second scan had to be taken.
The nurse came back from the other room with the scans and looked visibly shocked. ‘You’re not going to believe this,’ she said.
Nothing Like It
The doctor took the scan from the nurse and put on his glasses. Fixing them at the top of his nose, he examined the scan. ‘She’s right,’ he said. ‘I can hardly believe this.’
Doctors and nurses are no strangers to bizarre medical phenomena, but they had never seen anything like this. What had they discovered that had caused so much shock?
Shelley and Rob couldn’t believe what the doctor was telling them. Nobody could have prepared them for the scan that this doctor had.
Noah, the boy who had two percent of his brain at birth, now had over 80 percent of his brain. He had grown his brain back. It was truly a medical miracle. But how?
“It’s a very emotive subject. Some people say you can’t grow a brain, some say his brain was there, all squashed up, so when he’s had his shunt fitted, it’s gone back to where it should be,” Rob told Good Morning Britain.
“But if his brain were so squashed up, he would have been so severely mentally disabled.” So how had Noah’s brain grown?
How It Happened
Dr. Gregory Scott, a neuroscience researcher at Imperial College London, believed that the shunt had made space for the brain to grow.
Yet this was only a theory. Scott couldn’t prove it, and thus it shows how little we truly know about one of our most vital organs; the organ that keeps everything ticking – the brain.
Center Of Control
The brain controls thought, memory, emotion, motor skills, breathing, touch, vision, hunger, temperature and every single process that regulates our body.
But the ‘how’ behind the miracle of Noah’s brain wasn’t too important to Shelley and Rob. They were simply delighted by what was. And they knew the next steps to take.
“To hear his brain’s almost back to normal is beyond belief,” Shelly Wall said.
“Rob and I broke down when we heard the news. It was like a dream. I’ve never known anything like it. Even the consultants were in tears. Every time we see the doctors, they just shake their heads. They’re just amazed at what he can do,” she continued.
Noah’s parents and older sister Steph, 23, work hard to always be around him. They continually keep his brain stimulated, to aid its growth – his family call this “brain training.”
Brain training is also known as cognitive training and is used to maintain and improve cognitive abilities by performing regular activities.
By the time Noah was four years old, he was able to go to school, could count to 10, read, and talk. He can even use a pen.
He has overcome several challenges already that no one thought he would even be capable of. And little Noah wants to become a firefighter when he grows up.
Shelly told the Chronicle Live in 2017: “Noah’s doing amazingly well—he can write, he knows how to spell his name, he can hold a conversation.”
Noah was quickly proving his doctors and other medical professionals wrong. Nobody could have predicted what would happen next.
“He has been chatting so much more and pronouncing his words,’ Shelly explains in the show. He has started writing, he can follow my finger and write his name.”
“His concentration was just unbelievable with the pen, I didn’t know that this day would ever come. You can see the excitement, and he knows that he has done something amazing… he amazes us every day.”
Mr. and Mrs. Wall have dedicated their time to his brain development and have taken him to Australia to a radical brain training center. Noah now wants to learn to walk and wants to continue learning how to surf, and even start skiing.
Noah’s story received a lot of media attention. His story was uplifting and made people hopeful.
Noah continues to undergo ‘neurophysics’ treatment, a combination of physiotherapy and cognitive exercises that include horse riding, surfing, and even skydiving. They even had a belief that Noah would still be able to walk in the future.
For the whole family, things appeared to be looking up.
Mr. Wall explained that the experts don’t usually give the therapy to kids because of the cognitive side of things, but they were lucky enough to be able to persuade them to see and assess Noah and prepare them for when he’s old enough to have that cognitive treatment.
All in all, the little boy’s future looks bright, and his story teaches us an important lesson.
Writing on the Hugs for Noah website, Shelly said she hopes Noah’s case will raise awareness about the importance of taking folic acid during pregnancy. This can prevent spine and brain defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women who wish to conceive are advised to consume around 400 mcg of folic acid per day. “Even though I took it, I didn’t take it early enough,” she wrote, “No one told me just how important folic acid was.” But that’s not all…
A Testament To Human Hope
Without getting into a debate about the ethical arguments around abortion, we can say that Noah’s story is one of human hope and positivity. His parents were told that looking after Noah would be tough. And while taking care of him isn’t easy, there’s not a day that goes by without them thanking their lucky stars – their boy was a medical miracle.
Speaking of medical miracles, meet the woman who found out that she was pregnant… at 91 years old. The doctors had never seen anything like it before.
A Happy Couple
For 90-year-old Estela Meléndez and her husband Manuel González, they didn’t need designer clothes or a gigantic mansion to be happy. They were more than content living in their small but cozy bungalow in Chile.
The two had been together since they were teens, and when they told each other, “I’ll love you forever,” they really did mean it. However, their 74-year marriage was about to get torn in two, and their lives were about to change forever.
An Unfortunate Passing
You see, in 2015, Manuel, unfortunately, passed away in his sleep aged 91, leaving his wife devastated and heartbroken. A mere one year younger than her late husband, how would Estela cope with everyday chores now her husband had gone?
She struggled massively; even cooking for one felt like she was competing in a marathon. Estela thought things couldn’t get any worse, but so she was so wrong.
What Was She Going To Do Now?
After spending pretty much her entire life standing by her soulmate’s side, Estela, when Manuel passed, it was like her heart had been ripped from her chest.
She tried her best to stay positive and calm, but there was no denying it was hard. She often thought back to the time they spent together and reveled in the bittersweet memories. But there was one regret that Estela had, and she would take to the grave.
You see, the two didn’t have any children as early on in their relationship; they found out that Estela was unable to conceive and get pregnant.
It was heartbreaking to hear this, especially since the two longed to start a family. But the reason behind Estela not being able to have a baby was a mystery for decades. And when she found out the truth, she was left feeling sick to her stomach.
A Failure In Life?
Once Estela was told she couldn’t get pregnant, she spent the whole of her life feeling like she had failed. Estela’s sisters and friends all had children, and every time she saw them in their perfect happy family, her heart ached. She should be doing that. She should be raising a child.
However, a few years later, Estela found a tumor in her stomach. It wasn’t dangerous, but it was still another shot to the heart. However, little did she know a tumor would be the least of her worries.
A Year Later
The year following her husband’s death, Estela, now aged 91, was hit with numerous bills and never-ending medical issues. She started to lose her hearing, and she also developed arthritis.
Not to mention she was gaining weight as if she had been eating two slices of cake a night, but she wasn’t. Little did this 91-year-old know, things were about to get even worse.
The Weight Wasn’t Shifting
You see, Estela had been trying to lose weight for a while now. She had tried every diet you could think of; cabbage soup, vegan, Atkins, etc. She knew it was harder at her age, but that didn’t stop her.
However, the weight wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, it seemed like she was putting more weight on! She went to the doctors a mere few miles away, determined to find out the truth. But Estela had no idea what was coming.
At The Doctors
She arrived at the doctor’s and waited to be called in. Hospital and doctor rooms had been her life for the past 10 years. She was not a stranger to the sterile walls and the gross smell of the doctor’s room.
She waited to be called. But for some strange reason, she had a terrible feeling hit her stomach. She knew something was off. And she was so right.
The doctor wanted to make sure everything was ok, so he did an x-ray on Estela. They also wanted to check on the tumor she had in case there was something wrong.
However, the results from the x-ray would turn Estela’s world upside down. Nobody expected this to happen.
His Mouth Dropped
After carefully analyzing the results, the doctor came to the conclusion that Estela had never had a tumor in the first place!
What was the matter with her then? The doctor’s mouth dropped open, and his eyes widened with every glance he gave the x-ray. What Estela had inside her was something much more alarming than a tumor. The doctor had never seen anything like this before.
Never Saw Anything Like This Before
This had to be a joke, right? This couldn’t be true. How could this be possible? Hundreds and hundreds of questions ran through Estela’s mind as the doctor revealed the truth.
She felt sick to her stomach. She just wanted this to be a nightmare, one she would wake up from in a few seconds. But this was her reality. She takes a look at her stomach, and a shiver creeps up her spine.
It turned out this 91-year-old was actually pregnant! Estela was overwhelmed with emotion the moment the doctor told her. How did this happen? What exactly was going on?
The doctor revealed that the baby was actually the remains of a fetus. But Estela was left even more lost for words when doctors informed her how long she had been carrying the baby for.
How Was This Possible?
The doctors further analyzed the fetus and were able to conclude that Estela had been pregnant with it for around 60 years!
Estela was heartbroken to hear this news. After all, all her life, she had wanted a child of her own to raise and nurture. However, unbeknownst to her, an unborn child was, in fact, inside her for more than half a century! But the doctors had a lot more to say.
Doctors informed Estela that her condition, called lithopedion, only affects a small percentage of women worldwide.
Doctors call the fetuses lithopedions or stone babies and are the result of a fetus that starts to develop outside a pregnant woman’s womb. But how would everybody else in Estela’s small-town respond to her strange medical condition?
Talk Of The Town
Everybody was as equally surprised when they heard about Estela’s condition. Some felt uncomfortable, others comforted Estela in her time of need.
However, it would turn out there would be an even bigger surprise right around the corner – one that would come from her long-departed husband.
First it was social media, then the news outlets. From the The Washington Post to BBC, everyone wanted to talk with her. But that wasn’t the worst part.Some people – from journalists to the general public actually came to see her in person … without asking first.
Some were understanding when she politely told them she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Others became prickly and offended that they had “wasted all their money” to come and see her. They just didn’t understand what they were really doing to her.
Each visit was like reopening an already fresh wound.
Her heart was filled with so much longing that she found herself rummaging around in the attic where she had stored her late husband’s belongings. Some of them she hadn’t even opened since the day he passed – which would turn out to hold an enormous revelation.
Down Memory Lane
Estela pulled items one by one, trying to ignore the aching in her joints and focusing on the memories that came with them.
One was a seashell her husband had picked up from the beach and strung into a necklace. Afterwards, they had watched one of the most beautiful sunsets she had ever seen in her life. But next, was an odd stack of papers.
The pile was a mishmash of old receipts, documents, and some holiday cards. So much had been swept into boxes without looking.
But as she rifled through the musty smelling papers, an envelope caught her eye. It had her name on it … and it was her husband’s handwriting.
Expressions Of Love
This wasn’t any letter she could remember, but it started out the same … “To the love of my life.” Each letter curled into words, and each word made her heart swell.
They were words of adoration and promises of forever. It must have been during a time he was away, and they were missing each other desperately. But it was near the end that punched her in the chest.
The Words She Needed
It was like fate was reaching out to her directly.
“I know it’s been hard. I know how much you want kids. But even if we don’t have them, please remember it doesn’t make you any less of a person. I see how you are with the people around you … and it’s beautiful. You’re filled with so much life and love for them. I had you. And that’s enough for me.”
From The Grave
Estela grabbed her frantically beating heart and sobbed.
Even in the afterlife, he was taking care of her. Their love was truly eternal. After the so-called pregnancy, she had felt like a failure all over again, but this letter suddenly wiped that all away. She was sure of one thing.
Spreading Her Light
She had already made it through so many years, and there was no knowing how many more were ahead of her.
Whatever her final days would be, she would use them to keep spreading that light and love her husband adored so much.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.