Doctors said Bentley Yoder wouldn't survive being born after he was diagnosed with a rare congenital condition in which his brain was growing in a sac outside of his skull. Doctors advised his Ohio-based parents, Dustin and Sierra Yoder, to consider abortion after diagnosing their 22-week-old son with encephalocele. But the 25-year-old parents ultimately didn't go through with the abortion, and now a series of miracles have happened for 7-month-old Bentley.
"We were unimaginably shocked when we got the dire prognosis," Sierra told People magazine. "The specialist gave us no hope that he would ever live, breathe or thrive. It was gut-wrenching and nerve-wracking to think I was going to have our baby just to say goodbye as soon as we got to say hello."
Sierra shared that doctors said it was a miracle Bentley survived in-utero for 22 weeks.
According to Christian News, the Yoders scheduled an abortion because they didn't want their son to "suffer." However, just before the appointment, Sierra couldn't bring herself to end her child's life.
"The night before the procedure, I told Dustin I couldn't do it," she told the Washington Post. "He had a big sigh of relief. He was very happy."
Doctors told the Yoders even if their son survived birth, he would likely be brain dead. They provided the couple with information on area funeral arrangements. But during last October, Bentley was born with gusto.
"It was love at first sight. He came out kicking and screaming and breathing," Sierra recalled. "We were so relieved."
The Yoders said they feared the worst for Bentley in the first few weeks of his life, knowing what the doctors had stated about his prognosis. However, he remained stable, despite having a major protrusion from his skull. Nonetheless, doctors told the couple to make arrangements for hospice.
Yet, young Bentley did not die, despite struggling with infections and other complications. Experts at Boston Children's Hospital found the infant was using his brain, and while they were uncertain whether they could successfully place the brain back into Bentley's cranium, they wanted to save as much tissue as possible. Customary surgical procedures for encephalocele cases reportedly involve removing the section of the brain outside the cranium.
Bentley underwent an extensive surgical procedure involving a team of 40 doctors that lasted five hours.
While encephalocele cases are rare, and Bentley's case was even more unique due to his functioning brain, doctors are hopeful that he will continue to defy the odds.
Bentley's already prove he's meant for big things, said his proud mother. "He continues to give the medical field a run for their money."
"We are so positive," Dr. John Meara, the plastic surgeon-in-chief at Boston Hospital, told reporters. "He bounced back very quickly and he returned back to his baseline, neurologically, very quickly. Several days after [surgery], he was back to where he was beforehand."
"I have no reason to believe that [his brain] won't grow normally," he said.
While Sierra admits doctors are amazing, she told ABC News some physicians don't know what they are talking about. "As a mother, you have to trust your gut. If I didn't, I wouldn't have my son right now."