Angel Puerto and Ronel Prado, both aged 20, welcomed a baby boy at the end of January 2018. Shortly after the baby’s birth, they were stunned to find that he had a condition known as encephalocele.
At first, it was an egg-shaped lump, but it soon grew rapidly. Now, baby boy John Nhel’s parents are hoping to raise enough funds for his life-saving operation.
As of now, they’re caring for their baby by wrapping up the fluid-filled swelling in bandages to prevent injury and bleeding.
‘Unicorn Baby’ in the Philippines: What is an Encephalocele?
Because of his unusual condition, the baby boy has been making headlines worldwide.
“We have never seen a baby like this before, so we try to look at it like a blessing. Like he is a special little unicorn baby,” says mom Angel in an interview. “We just have to figure that out once the operation is done, but for now, our priority is to get him the surgery.”
We have reached out to both of the baby’s parents and will be updating this article accordingly.
What is an Encephalocele?
An encephalocele is a rare birth defect. It occurs when tissue protrudes and breaks through skull openings, forming a skin-covered sac. Aside from fluid, an encephalocele can contain blood vessels, brain tissue, and nervous system membranes (meninges).
To diagnose this condition, doctors can detect it as early as the fetus’ ultrasound. But in some cases, it is only discovered after birth.
Other conditions associated with this are hydrocephalus, microcephaly, and paralysis.
Surgery is the only way to treat an encephalocele. During the operation, surgeons will remove the sac and patch up the opening in the skull to seal it. However, in some cases where skin is covering the sac, surgery can be delayed until the baby is older.
Unicorn baby in the Philippines: In cases of encephalocele, surgery is the only option. (image courtesy: shutterstock)
Surgeons may also opt to perform a minimally invasive procedure known as Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA).
There is no known cause of encephaloceles, but what’s clear is that this birth defect isn’t linked to a mother’s health and lifestyle during pregnancy.
Once surgery is a success, comes another battle. Children with a history of encephaloceles are at risk for the following symptoms and abnormalities:
- Developmental delays
- Intellectual disability
- Vision problems
- Growth retardation
- Spastic quadriplegia (paralysis of the arms and legs)
- Microcephaly (head size smaller than average)
- Ataxia (poor coordination and unsteady movement)
source: Mirror, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Also READ: The survival story of baby born with his brain outside his skull