South African Couple Defy Doctor’s Advice to Abort Baby With Spina Bifida, Deliver Healthy Son

TIMEJuly 14, 2021

A couple in Johannesburg defied their doctor’s advice to abort their baby after he was diagnosed with spina bifida. The mom gave birth to a healthy baby boy—who is now a rambunctious 5-year-old.

Christal Dreyer, 40, and her husband Bernard, 40, were thrilled when she fell pregnant.

When she was about 20 weeks into her term, Christal went to the doctor for a 4D ultrasound scan to determine the sex of the baby.

“My husband and I went in, the lady continued with the scan, she didn’t say much, she confirmed both babies are boys and everything looks good with baby B (Karl). She didn’t say much about baby A,” Christal told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Christal Dreyer (2nd R) and her husband Bernard with their three sons, Deon on the far left. (Courtesy of Christal Dreyer)

After the scan, the medical worker booked an appointment for Christal to see a twin fetal specialist, informing her that it was urgent.

“Letter in hand we arrived home, and the only words I could make out was ‘spina bifida,’ so I Googled it,” said Christal. “I was devastated, my sister was visiting at that time, and she told me to step away from the computer and wait for my appointment with the specialist.”

A few days later, the mom and her husband saw the specialist, and he confirmed her son had the said condition.

“We were told he will have no quality of life, that he will be wheelchair bound and will have minimal brain function,” she said. “We were also told that with spina bifida comes one of the three chromosome abnormalities—Down syndrome (trisomy 21), Edward syndrome (trisomy 18), Patau syndrome (trisomy 13)—and that we need to get tested for this ASAP.”

The specialist advised them to terminate the pregnancy, and then went on to describe the process—which was devastating for them to hear.

“Doctor explained that they take a needle and insert it into the baby heart, killing it with air injected into his heart, then I will need to carry my dead baby to full term when baby B is born, and then only will they take the terminated baby out,” said Christal.

After some chromosomal tests, the couple decided they would not terminate; they would keep the baby and brushed off their doctor’s advice.

The decision was motivated by a friend who sent Christal a Bible verse that gave her hope, as the mom recalled:

“We are facing difficult situations everyday and we can take comfort in Jeremiah 29:11 knowing that it is not a promise to immediately rescue us from hardship or suffering, but rather a promise that God has a plan for our lives and regardless of our current situation, He can work through it to prosper us and give us a hope.”

Christal carried her pregnancy to full term; and three days after the baby, Deon, was born, he underwent his first surgery to remove the MMS sac on his back caused by the spina bifida.

Epoch Times Photo
Deon as a baby in the hospital. (Courtesy of Christal Dreyer)
Epoch Times Photo
Christal and her baby son Deon in the hospital. (Courtesy of Christal Dreyer)

A week later, Deon underwent another surgery to insert a VP shunt to remove excess fluid which was building up in his brain. But afterward, he got well.

Years passed.

At age 2 1/2, Deon had beaten the odds. He was able to walk independently after intensive physiotherapy.

“I felt so much joy in those moments,” said Christal, adding that all she wanted to do at that time was go back to the doctors and prove them wrong.

Epoch Times Photo
Deon as a rambunctious toddler. (Courtesy of Christal Dreyer)

Deon is now 5 and is loved by many. He has a babbly, boisterous, and independent personality.

Due to Deon’s back surgery and VP shunt, he cannot play contact sports. His mom says her biggest challenge is explaining to him why he cannot compete in games like football.

Christal advises parents in situations similar to hers to keep hope alive and be critical about what doctors say about their baby’s quality of life.

“Most important, there is always someone to listen and help you through whatever challenge you are facing,” she added.

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