British mother Sarah Forster did not give in when her doctors pressured her to abort her unborn daughter Mia.
Though they told her that Mia had Dandy-Walker syndrome, a rare brain disorder, and likely would not survive birth, Forster remained steadfast in her conviction that her daughter deserved a chance at life.
“I couldn’t think of anything worse than not giving Mia the life that she was entitled to. It’s not all doom and gloom,” the Barrow, England mother told The Mail.
According to the report, Forster and Mia’s father, Rob Morgan, learned about their daughter’s condition during a 19-week ultrasound scan. Doctors told the family that their daughter had Dandy-Walker syndrome, a congenital brain malformation that involves excessive fluid build-up on the brain, cysts and an enlarged skull.
Forster said the condition is so rare that they were not given much information about it or support. Instead, doctors advised her to have an abortion.
“The doctors told us that termination would be the best option for Mia, which wasn’t ever an option for us. We always wanted to give her a chance at life,” she remembered.
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Parents whose unborn babies show signs of disabilities frequently feel pressured into abortions, even for minor, correctable problems like a cleft lip. The abortion rate for unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome is as high as 100 percent in some countries. However, a new investigation by the New York Times found that non-invasive prenatal tests are not as accurate as they are made out to be.
Forster said she knew she could not abort Mia especially after seeing her sucking her thumb on the ultrasound screen.
“I carried on with the pregnancy and got private scans of our own and saw Mia was sucking her thumb and doing normal things babies do in utero. So that solidified to me what we’re doing in keeping Mia was the best thing to do,” she said.
Mia was born by cesarean section in November 2020 at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, according to the report. Despite doctors’ predictions, she came out alive and fighting.
“Everything we were told to prepare for wasn’t the case. Mia was doing brilliant,” her mother said.
For the first year of her life, Mia appeared to be doing well, her mother said. She had scoliosis and an enlarged skull, “but other than that she’s a happy, content little girl,” her mother said.
Then, in December, Forster said doctors performed surgery to remove a meningocele, a neural tube defect, and place a shunt in her brain to drain excess fluid. During that surgery, Mia went into cardiac arrest, and since then she has been fighting off infections and seizures, her mother said.
“She is slowly coming round. She’s been suffering seizures really bad but she is slowly coming back to us. There is going to be a long journey ahead,” Forster said.
Despite all Mia’s struggles and her parents’ worries, Forster remains confident that aborting her daughter was not a solution. Through the support of family and other parents online whose children have Dandy-Walker syndrome, she said they have been able to remain positive.
“It’s been so scary but she keeps me strong and positive. She’s already done so much that they thought she wouldn’t do,” she said. “They didn’t even think she’d be here – she got past birth. She’s such a strong little warrior.”
She encouraged other parents to choose life for their children, too.
“I want other parents of children with the same condition to know that termination isn’t always the answer and some people might feel like what the doctor say goes which isn’t the case,” she said.