Baby Bentley Born With His Brain Outside His Skull Defies the Odds, Turns 7 Months Old

National   |   Emily Derois   |   Jun 24, 2016   |   12:04PM   |   Washington, DC

When having an ultrasound, Dustin and Sierra Yoder discovered that their five-month-old unborn baby had a brain disorder called an encephalocele, according to Live Action News.

This sometimes-fatal condition caused a portion of their son’s brain to grow outside his skull. The doctor’s advice to the concerned parents was to abort their baby boy. Because there wasn’t a chance of survival after birth, the Sugarcreek, Ohio couple said they scheduled an abortion. However, Sierra had a sudden change of heart.

She explained to The Washington Post: “The night before the procedure, I told Dustin I couldn’t do it. He had a big sigh of relief. He was very happy.”


Although doctors warned the parents that their son would die at birth, the Yoders said they wanted to spend as much time with their baby as possible and say goodbye. They were surprised and overjoyed when their son Bentley was born moving and screaming, according to the report.

“He was perfect,” Sierra said. “It really didn’t matter how long we had. We were just thankful we got to hold him.”

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The family spent the next 36 hours holding little Bentley before the doctors told them to take him home, according to the report.

The next few weeks Bentley continued to thrive. The Yoders said they met with multiple specialists about Bentley’s condition, but none of them gave the family hope. Finally, at the Boston Children’s Hospital, they found a surgical team that specializes in children with an encephalocele, according to the report. The doctors believed that Bentley was using the portion of his brain outside his head, and said they could try to place it back inside his skull.


Live Action News reported on the incredible procedure:

Dr. [John] Meara said that the difficult part about Bentley’s surgery was that a good portion of his brain was outside the skull, so the skull would need to be reconstructed. A 3D model of his skull was created and worked on several times as practice for the surgery that was scheduled for May 24.

Doctors cut back the skin and the membranes that were covering Bentley’s brain and drained excess fluid. Cuts they made in the skull allowed them to gently place the brain inside. The pieces of skull they had cut out were then put back on to close the gap.

The surgery was successful, and 7-month-old Bentley is currently growing and doing well, the Post reports. Sierra and Justin are amazed and grateful for their son’s progress.


Sierra reflected: “We’ve been through so much from the beginning – being told he’s not gonna make it. And him always proving everybody wrong.”

You can read the rest of Bentley’s story at Boston Children’s Hospital: Bentley’s Second Chance.