Seven-week-old boy Nhel Jhon Prado suffers from encephalocele, which doctors failed to detect while he was in the womb. Speaking of her surprise at seeing the egg-sized lump, Nhel’s mother Angel Puerto, 20, said: ‘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.’
Although Angel and Nhel’s father Ronel Prado, 20, a delivery driver, were able take their son to their home in Manila, Philippines, he has since needed round-the-clock care to redress the bandages on his tender lump, which is growing rapidly.
The family are waiting for a life-saving operation to remove the birth defect at Pasig General Hospital, which is due to take place in the coming weeks but is being delayed due to costs.
Although the operation is critical, Nhel’s parents have been told their son has suffered no brain damage and should go on to live a healthy life if the procedure is successful.
What Is Encephaloceles
Encephaloceles are rare birth defects associated with skull defects caused by partial lacking of bone fusion leaving a gap through which a portion of the brain sticks out (protrudes).In some cases, cerebrospinal fluid or the membranes that cover the brain (meninges) may also protrude through this gap.The portion of the brain that sticks outside the skull is usually covered by skin or a thin membrane so that the defect resembles a small sac.
Protruding tissue may be located on any part of the head, but most often affects the back of the skull (occipital area). Most encephaloceles are large and significant birth defects that are diagnosed before birth. However, in extremely rare cases, some encephaloceles may be small and go unnoticed.
The exact cause of encephaloceles is unknown, but most likely the disorder results from the combination of several factors. Incidences are rare with about 1.7 in every 10,000 births in the UK.
Encephalocele treatment in most cases is surgery to put the part of the brain that is outside the skull back into place and close the opening. Neurosurgeons often can repair even large encephaloceles without causing the baby to lose further ability to function.
‘We will do everything we can’ Doctors said
CT scans show Nhel’s growth is benign and has not affected his brain.
Ronel said: ‘I hope that my baby gets better soon. I know he can do it. We will do everything we can.’The swelling has grown so quickly it’s hard to believe. It has doubled in size in just a few weeks.
‘I would like to see my boy get older so I can play soccer with him like other children do. He deserves that, he’s so beautiful.’
Angel added: ‘The doctors used ultrasound tests but didn’t notice anything wrong with Nhel while I was pregnant.
‘When he was born they said my baby is lucky that the brain was not affected or damaged by the lumps.
‘We still don’t know yet how to pay the medical bills. We just have to figure that out once the operation is done, but for now, our priority is to get him the surgery.’
Growth has to be permanently wrapped in bandages
Nhel is believed to have developed the growth during the later stages of his mother’s pregnancy, however, its exact cause is unknown.
The swelling contains lots of watery liquid, which has requires the growth be permanently wrapped in bandages to prevent bleeding or injuries.
Nhel’s parents have to be particularly careful not to knock the defect when picking him up. Extra care also needs to be taken while Nhel is sleeping.
Adapted from: mailonline