DES MOINES, Iowa — A couple in Iowa who was counseled by doctors to abort their unborn son after he was diagnosed with a terminal condition has learned that their child, who was born last month, was misdiagnosed and is expected to live after all.
“I didn’t feel like it was my decision to make,” Ariann Corpstein told the Des Moines Register of the recommendation to abort. “We knew that our baby was probably not going to be born alive. Whatever happens, it’s in God’s hands.”
Corpstein and her husband Drew were informed earlier this year following an ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation that their baby had malformed brain tissue. They consequently sought out a specialist, who advised that the child had a brain stem, but not a complete brain.
Seeking yet another opinion, a second specialist said that while the child had some brain matter, it had not divided into halves.
The Corpsteins were told that their child, who was diagnosed with hydranencephaly, would only last for days, at the most, after birth. They were recommended two options, both of which meant ending their baby’s life: obtain an abortion, or induce premature labor now in the hospital.
However, Ariann knew that she couldn’t take the matter into her own hands. She and her husband determined to trust God, no matter the outcome.
“I’m so glad that she was so strong in her foundation,” Drew told Fox & Friends on Thursday. “For me, it was very difficult. … I had always been pro-life. Abortion was never in my mind as an option. [But] when you’re told that your baby’s brain isn’t developing and they will be a vegetable on machines, maybe not hear, see, smell, you question [what to do].”
“Ariann never wavered,” he said, his voice breaking as he fought tears, expressing gratitude.
The couple prayed that the doctors were somehow wrong, but also made plans in the event that the prognosis was correct.
Ariann carried the pregnancy to 37 weeks, and could feel her baby moving and kicking inside. Doctors told the Corpsteins that they would still feel all the movements despite their son’s condition.
Last month, Ariann gave birth in a neonatal hospice unit, and to the surprise of all, he breathed and nursed on his own just fine.
Noting that the child was doing better than expected, a nurse urged the Corpsteins to obtain an MRI. Following the test, a doctor came in the room to tell the couple the news: he had a full brain after all.
“He says, ‘Your baby does not have hydranencephaly,'” Drew recalled. “And then, he says, ‘Your son has hydrocephalus.”
Hydrocephalus is a condition where fluid builds up in the brain cavity, creating pressure. It is treatable, and according to The Brain Foundation, “Most hydrocephalus patients lead long, problem-free lives.” The fluid filling up the baby’s head had made it look on the MRI like he had no brain matter, and resulted in a misdiagnosis.
Word that their son would actually make it filled the Corpstein’s hearts with both shock and joy. They named their child Matthew, who has since also been dubbed “Matthew the Great.”
“Hydrocephalus is a fairly common condition. Unfortunately, a lot of parents get told that they can abort,” Drew lamented.
Doctors placed a shunt in a duct in Matthew’s brain that was found to be too small and was most likely the cause of the fluid buildup. While Matthew still has a road to recovery ahead of him, and was recently readmitted to the hospital with meningitis, he is expected to live a normal life.
“Blessed to share this message of God’s miracle, and we hope it can continue in the days and years to come,” Ariann wrote in a recent Facebook post. “#MatthewTheGreat you have an amazing platform, buddy.”
She also shared Romans 5:3-5, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Those wishing to help with Matthew’s medical expenses may click here.