Blessings from Adversity

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Our story this week is about spina bifida, the most common permanently disabling birth defect. Spina bifida literally means “split spine.” It occurs when the developing baby’s spinal column doesn’t completely close, allowing damage to the nerves and spinal cord.

More than half of parents who learn their unborn baby have the condition choose abortion, but not Brian and Amy Smith.

The Pittsburgh couple instead pursued an emerging treatment: fetal surgery to close baby Hannah’s spinal lesion while she was still in the womb. Though not a cure, it is hoped the surgery will reduce development of hydrocephalus, the accumulation of fluid in the brain that could cause significant damage. For Hannah, it was a success.

Eighteen-year-old Matthew Bokelman has spina bifida, too, but that doesn’t hold him back. Matthew, who can barely feel his own legs, took up swimming twelve years ago. He can finish a race within seconds of competitors. Upon graduating high school, he plans to go to college for a culinary arts degree to pursue a career as a chef.

Both families say their children daily enrich life and hope others will recognize a person’s value is not based on what they can or cannot do.

Season 1. 22 minutes.

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