Deon Dreyer was not supposed to walk. If his doctors had had their way, he would not even be alive.
But today, the South African boy is a happy, thriving 5-year-old who loves to run around with his twin brother and play golf, the Roodepoort Record reports.
His mother, Christal Dreyer, said Deon was diagnosed with the most severe form of spina bifida, myelomeningocele, when she was 22 weeks pregnant with him and his brother.
She said her doctors predicted that Deon would never walk and his quality of life would be poor. The doctors recommended a late-term abortion, but Christal and her husband, Bernard, refused to consider the idea of ending their son’s life, according to the report.
“The possibilities in the pictures the doctors painted were pretty dark, but he proved them wrong,” Bernard said.
While Deon was still an infant, he underwent his first surgery. Since then, he has had two more as well as on-going physiotherapy, his parents said. As a result, Deon began to walk when he was two-and-a-half years old, and today his parents said he loves to run and play golf.
He is “the happiest, cleverest and most lovable boy running around,” his mother said. “… with the naked eye you won’t see that there is anything wrong with him. He looks like a happy, normal, bright boy.”
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The family told the news outlet that they want to encourage parents to choose life for their unborn babies after a spina bifida diagnosis. They said spina bifida is not curable right now, but there are many treatment options available to help children like their son.
One of these is a life-changing in-utero surgery that patches holes in the unborn baby’s spine. A hospital in London, England recently celebrated 32 such successful surgeries. Doctors said the surgery can greatly improve the quality of children’s lives by lessening the effects of the disease.
Yet, abortion often is recommended to parents after their unborn baby has been diagnosed with a disability. Some parents report feeling pressured by doctors and genetic counselors to end their babies’ lives. A recent study highlighted in Scientific American found evidence that families of children with Down syndrome often face negative, biased counseling and pressure to have abortions.
Tragically, health data across the globe suggests many parents give into this pressure and choose to abort their unborn babies rather than give them a chance at life. For example, statistics from Iceland indicate nearly 100 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth are aborted in the country.
Pro-life advocates are working to end this discrimination through laws that provide better information and support to families facing a difficult prenatal diagnosis as well as legislation to ban discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s diagnosis.
Stories like the Dreyers also provide hope to families by demonstrating the joys and possibilities when they choose life for their babies.