Baby diagnosed with devastating brain malformation, family rejects abortion

Owen Masterson now one year old

By Dave Andrusko

Owen Masterson, of Missouri, celebrated his first birthday in September after he was diagnosed with Acalvaria, an extremely rare malformation which meant he lacked skull and facial bones
Screen capture Facebook/On Angels’ Wings

Jackie Rehwald’s five word lead sentence reminds pro-lifers of why we fight for all children, including those diagnosed with and/or born with devastating injuries: “Sometimes the doctors are wrong.”

And they could not have been more wrong in the case of Owen Masterson, Rehwald writes:

Like when they Tom and Jessica Masterson — then 24 weeks pregnant — were told that their baby probably wouldn’t survive the pregnancy.

If their child does make it to term, the doctors warned, he would most certainly not survive the trauma of birth.

And if somehow the child somehow survives birth, the Mastersons wouldn’t have much time with him.

“He won’t be compatible with life,” Tom Masterson recalled a doctor’s words. “He will not survive this.”

Tom smiled at baby Owen, now a year old, as he told the story.

To be fair, the odds were overwhelmingly stacked against Owen. During an ultrasound performed at 24 weeks, doctors discovered that Owen lacked skull and facial bones, an extremely rare malformation known as acalvaria.

“Owen has no skull above his eyebrow and ears to protect his brain,” Rehwald explained. When the condition was discovered, “the doctors were not sure if Owen even had skin covering his brain.”

Not surprisingly, given the devastating diagnosis, even though she was 24 weeks along, the family was told they could abort.

“We just said absolutely not. That is not something we will consider remotely,” Tom told Rehwald. “We don’t really know what this is going to look like but this is our baby. We’ve been chosen to have him. So we are going to do everything we can to love him as long as we get to have him.”

The Mastersons are realistic about Owen’s condition. “They understand Owen’s brain is significantly deformed, and he is at higher risk for seizures,” Rehwald wrote. “ He has been put on seizure medication and is scheduled for an electroencephalogram (EEG).”

Still, the Mastersons say they are thankful for every moment they have with Owen and for the support of the community, Springfield Public Schools, Mercy Hospital and their church family at James River Church.

“We don’t view this as some tragic accident that is just awful,” Tom said. “For whatever reason, this is what we get to walk through and experience. This is a season of life that we are going to get to be experiencing right now. Life is just full of that.”

The Mastersons are people of a deep and abiding faith. “We felt confident that God was going to do something, that Owen had a very specific purpose,” Tom Masterson said.

Owen’s purpose, according to his parents, is simply this: sharing his story of hope and the power of faith with others.

“It’s definitely challenging, but I wouldn’t change him,” Jessica said, cradling Owen in her arms as she must do for the better part of the day. “I love him the way he is.”