Born with part of her brain outside her skull, baby thriving four years later

Abortion “never an option for us”

By Dave Andrusko

Isabella Grote was born with a rare condition encephalocele, causing part of her brain to grow through an opening at the back of her skull.

Isabella Grote was born with a rare condition encephalocele, causing part of her brain to grow through an opening at the back of her skull.

Already the proud mother of two, Sharlotte Grote of North Dakota thought her pregnancy was completely normal until a scan was taken at 20 weeks. The news she heard over the phone could hardly have been more devastating and left Mrs. Grote and her husband Jim counseled to prepare for the worst.

The scan found that their daughter Isabella suffered from a rare condition found in only one of 10,000 babies. Encephalocele is a neural tube defect which allows part of a baby’s brain to grow through an opening at the back of the skull.

Mrs. Grote told The Daily Mail

‘We were terrified, our baby was given a 25 per cent chance of surviving past her first few days and even then we were warned she may be severely disabled.’

But abortion

was never an option for us, even if I could spend just a few minutes with my little girl I would be happy.

That utterly devastating diagnosis was delivered to the couple over four years ago. Now the Express newspaper is reporting that Mrs. Grote says, “She has just celebrated her fourth birthday and is doing amazing – she has hit all of her milestones including walking and talking and loves going to school.”

Doctors only gave her a 25 per cent chance of survival and even then warned she was likely to suffer from severe disabilities. But Isabella, with her mother Sharlotte, has astonished doctors with her progress.

Doctors only gave her a 25 per cent chance of survival and even then warned she was likely to suffer from severe disabilities. But Isabella, with her mother Sharlotte, has astonished doctors with her progress.

But this great news was by no means assured, even if Isabella survived until and through birth which came a month early by Caesarian. Indeed, when the family first got the diagnosis, Mrs. Grote said, “I called a funeral home to find out our options as we prepared ourselves for the worst.”

She explained to the Daily Mail’s Kate Pickles, “They told us that if she did survive she may be severely disabled and may never be able to walk or talk.”

The initial turn for the better came immediately when doctors told the couple there was less brain matter in the sac than originally thought. According to the Daily Mail

‘At three days old she went into surgery to have the sac removed but we still didn’t know whether she would make it.

‘Luckily the surgery went amazing, there was mostly fluid in the sack and we were informed Isabella had no other obvious abnormalities.

‘Doctors were even able to place the small part of her brain back into her skull – we couldn’t believe it.’

After only 13 days in the NICU, Mr. and Mrs. Grote were able to take their little girl home in May 2012.

Pickles concludes her terrific story on a note of promise and hope:

Despite two surgeries at the age of two and three to correct vision problems, Isabella is a picture of health.

‘We feel truly blessed to have our beautiful little girl with us today. She has been through more than most people have to go through in a lifetime,’ said Mrs. Grote.

‘She is just like any other four year old, she loves playing with her dolls and is so loving and caring.

‘She is such a fighter’