The mother of a boy who was born with just two per cent of his brain has spoken of how her ‘extraordinary’ son defied the odds.
When Shelly Wall, of Abbeytown in Cumbria, developed a rare condition called hydrocephalus in the womb, she and her husband Rob were told on five different occasions that they could terminate the pregnancy.
When their son Noah finally came into the world in 2012 doctors found he only had two per cent of his brain.
They were desperate to give their boy the chance of a healthy life – but had no idea if he would even survive.
Miraculously he kept on growing, and so did his brain, which by the age of three, scans showed had grown to 80 per cent capacity.
Now at the age of six he has learned to talk and is hoping to be able to walk, surf and ski with the help of a pioneering clinic in Australia.
Shelly and Rob Wall are pictured with their six-year-old son Noah on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today who has grown 78 per cent of his brain since he was born
On the left is a scan of Noah’s brain when he was born, filled with fluid (in black) and with very little healthy brain tissue. On the right is his brain now, which is almost fully functioning
The family-of-three appeared on Good Morning Britain this morning, where the Walls described their son’s progress as ‘extraordinary’.
Mr Wall said: ‘It’s a very emotive subject. Some people say you can’t grow a brain.
‘Other people say it must have always been there. But if it was and squashed up it would have been so severely damaged he would have been very mentally and physically disabled.’
Mrs Wall described their experience with doctors, saying: ‘Before he was born they gave me the option of a termination five times.
‘We got taken into a room and they drew a circle saying ‘this brain will only be half a brain’.
Little Noah Wall warmed viewers hearts when he appeared on Good Morning Britain looking healthy and happy this morning
A picture shows Noah as a newborn when scans showed he only had two per cent of his brain
GMB host Richard Madeley asked why the couple were so determined to go through pregnancy despite enormous complications.
Mr Wall replied: ‘We were older parents, if younger people were offered that choice they may have felt pressured to go through with it, but we know our own minds and we are positive people.
WHAT IS HYDROCEPHALUS?
Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid on the brain.
The excess fluid can put pressure on the brain and which can damage it.
Noah developed congenital hydrocephalus present at birth, caused by the spina bifida he was also diagnosed with.
Long-term complications can include learning disabilities, impaired speech, memory problems, short attention span, problems with organisational skills, vision problems such as a squint and visual impairment, and problems with physical co-ordination.
The condition can usually be treated using a shunt, a thin tube that’s surgically implanted in the brain and drains away the excess fluid.
‘We wanted to give Noah the chance of life.’
Describing the day Noah was born, Mrs Wall added: ‘The day he was born was amazing. We waited with baited breath.’
The couple were admitted to hospital a week before Mrs Wall’s due date because the pressure on Noah’s brain was becoming dangerous.
There were 12 doctors in the operating theatre as experts performed a C-section, but as he came into the world, they were given a sign.
Mr Wall said: ‘He let out this amazing scream. We knew there was power there.’
Now the family send regular updates the doctors who told them Noah wouldn’t make it.
Mrs Wall said: ‘He’s extraordinary. We send them emails and pictures and we take them presents at Christmas time.’
The couple have been given an assessment a pioneering Australian clinic, where medics combine physiotherapy and cognitive training to ‘train the brain’.
He is confined to a wheelchair but with the help of the clinic hopes to try out some of his favourite sports.
Noah is confined to a wheelchair but is hoping to learn to walk having taught himself to speak
Mr Wall said: ‘Usually they don’t do it for children. But we are incredibly lucky to have got an assessment.
‘The brain’s ability to heal and correct the body’s nervous system is amazing.’
Mrs Wall discovered three months into her pregnancy that her unborn son had a catalogue of health problems.
These included spina bifida – a condition which prevents the spine from developing properly – rare chromosome abnormalities and hydrocephalus.
Although Noah faces a lifetime of operations, he and his parents remain determined to fulfill his dreams, and seeing him walk is their ultimate goal.
Noah is pictured alongside his mother on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday