Lifestyle & Human Interest

After Mom Refuses Abortion, Miracle Baby Reportedly Becomes First To Survive Rare Condition


A New Jersey baby is defying the odds after a rare and potentially fatal medical condition caused him to be born with a large portion of his skull missing.

Maria Santa Maria, who has three daughters, had always wanted a little boy.

But when she was 10 weeks pregnant, she learned about her baby’s devastating diagnosis — little Lucas had exencephaly, a disease that would most likely end his life within a few hours of birth, if he even made it that long.

“The doctor tried to explain he had exencephaly — his skull hasn’t completely closed,” Santa Maria told the New York Post.

“He said the baby’s brain was protruding, which is incompatible with life, and they recommended abortion.”

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Heartbroken, Maria and her husband, Augusto Santa Maria, talked over the prognosis. Ultimately, the mother knew she wanted the chance to meet her little boy, even if it meant she only got to know him for one day.

“I was never for abortion but we were for considering the circumstances,” she said. “It was always a battle back and forth. I was always researching everything I could about it. I decided even if I could be with him for even five minutes, it would all be worth it.”

The couple explained the situation to their three little girls, preparing for the worst.

Maria Santa Maria held fast to her faith, urging her daughters to pray for their brother.

When she went into labor, the family was ready to say goodbye, knowing that Lucas would likely pass away within a day.

But he didn’t.

Still, because of the danger posed by the condition, Lucas’ family members couldn’t hold him after he was born due to the risk of tearing or damaging the thin barrier keeping the child’s brain from contact with the outside world.

“What he had on his head was a big balloon like twice the size of his head,” Maria Santa Maria told the Post. “If that ruptured, it was a big emergency. We couldn’t handle him like that. We asked what other options we had, and that’s when [the doctor] came in and started explaining to us the surgery.”

“And as soon as he started talking about that, we knew it was the route we wanted to take.”

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The surgeon explained that Lucas could undergo surgery to cover his skull and stabilize him. The family readily agreed and the infant was ushered into surgery.

Dr. Tim Vogel of the North Jersey Brain and Spine Center said he wanted to make sure the baby’s mother would be able to hold her little boy at last.

He said the Santa Maria family showed tremendous courage in defying doctors and giving their son a chance to live.

“I had to push for the first couple days [for] the surgery to get done,” Vogel said.

“I think it was an amazing amount of fortitude [the family] had in looking forward to that.”

One week after the surgery, Lucas had improved so much that he was released from the hospital under his parents’ care.

Rejoicing to finally have their brother home, the Santa Maria sisters have spent time showering the newest member of their family with affection and love, according their mother.

“He came to complete our family because this is the baby boy we’ve been waiting for,” their mother said.

The infant who no one thought would survive a single day is now nearly seven months old. He’s the first baby in the world with this condition to survive, according to the Post, and his very existence is evidence of a heartwarming miracle that proves just how valuable every life is.

Lucas will undergo his next surgery, which will begin skull reconstruction, in a few months, the family says.

“There’s no script to follow,” Vogel said. “Every moment that we have with Lucas is a blessing, so I don’t know what he’s going to be able to do. The fact that he’s able to do what he’s doing now is awesome.”

Maria Santa Maria told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “He always did more than they were expecting him to do.”

“We just keep hoping for the best.”

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Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Phoenix, AZ