I am a firm believer that every baby is a miracle. However, there are those who meet substantial challenges very early in life—for some even before they’re born. Many parents are pressured to abort a life that’s less than “ideal.” That’s how the inspirational story of Mylah Perkins begins. . . .
In her 19th week of pregnancy, Mina Perkins was excited about her ultrasound that would reveal if she was carrying a boy or a girl. She had even scheduled the ultrasound to take place on her birthday. Joined by a few family members, they anxiously awaited the news of the baby’s gender. However, something else captured the attention of the ultrasound technician.
Soon, Mina realized that something was wrong. The gynecologist finally explained that it appeared part of the baby’s brain was missing and her hands were clenched, both of which were signs of the often-deadly chromosomal disorder, Trisomy 18.
A few days later, the diagnosis was confirmed. The doctors’ reactions were discouragingly negative. In an interview with Ebony.com, Mina described the doctor as monotone. “He said, ‘the baby’s fate is sealed.’” Her doctor claimed, “There’s no reason to continue ultrasounds because if the baby didn’t die in the womb, she would die shortly after.” Then, the doctor began to explain the abortion procedure.
That’s when Mina says something inside of her moved. “The whole time I was pregnant, I never felt Mylah at all. But when the doctor started talking about abortion, she kicked me! That was just my confirmation from God when she kicked. We believe in God and we prayed for this baby for so long. At that moment, I don’t care about no clenched hands, I don’t care what type of brain defects she has, I was not going to end her life. When God decides to take her life then I’ll let Him do that, but I don’t have the right to take her life.”
However, her maternal courage was met by skepticism by the medical community. Rather than offer help and encouragement, Mina was instead given resources for grief, loss and hospice. In spite of it all, Mina still held onto hope. She boldly told the social worker, “I haven’t lost my baby!” She insisted that she be connected with positive, life-affirming resources and physicians. The hospice organization supported her decision and said it best, “As long as Mylah has a heartbeat, you celebrate her.”
Mina went ahead with her pregnancy and bought baby clothes and furniture and held a baby shower. When the time came for Mylah to be born at 41 weeks 3 days, the hospital still prepared for the worst. A neonatologist even warned, “If your baby is born without a heartbeat, we will not resuscitate.”
I find that to be an outrageous comment because it’s by no means a decision that doctors can make without the parents’ consent.
Mylah was born weighing in at over five pounds—the largest Trisomy 18 baby the doctors had ever delivered. She did have trouble breathing and had to be bagged twice to resuscitate her. Mina pleaded with her newborn daughter to please breathe and her prayers were answered with Mylah’s small cry. Everyone in the room responded in celebration at this affirmation of life.
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While her birth was indeed miraculous, the road ahead would prove to be difficult. The hospital refused to operate on the hole in her heart because of her Trisomy 18. Unfortunately, lack of support from the medical community is common in cases of Trisomy 18. On our TV program, Facing Life Head-On, I talked with the family of Lilliana Dennis, who encountered nearly the exact same obstacles. Lilliana’s parents, Rhonda and Russell, had to go before a hospital ethics committee in order to plead for the life-saving heart surgery their daughter needed to survive. They were fortunate to receive the surgery and now Lilliana is doing well and is approaching her second birthday. You can watch the entire episode online.
In Mylah’s case, her parents were blessed to find pediatric cardiac surgeon, Dr. Richard Ohye who was willing to disregard the grim statistics and provide the surgery. Now, Mylah is one year old, breathes with a tracheotomy, has a feeding tube and requires round-the-clock nurse’s care. Some would claim that hers is not a life worth living, yet her mother says she smiles and laughs and is the happiest baby. Who are we to judge the “quality of life” this or any person may have?
The Perkins family plans to continue advocating for Mylah, stating advice that I think medical professionals everywhere should heed, “You cannot treat the disorder. You have to treat the child.”
LifeNews.com Note: Bradley Mattes is the executive director of Life Issues Institute, a national pro-life educational group. Mattes is a veteran of the pro-life cause, with over 33 years of educational, political and humanitarian experience.