BOSTON — Everyone was so sure the newborn would die that they didn’t even clean him off after birth. Nurses didn’t weigh him, or suction fluid out of his throat.
His parents had bought no baby supplies, other than a single onesie. They expected to bury him in it.
But Bentley Yoder came out screaming and wouldn’t give up.
A significant chunk of his brain grew outside his skull, in a bulbous mass at the top of his head. With birth defects like his, the protruding white matter is usually such a mess that doctors just lop it off. But Bentley had so much brain outside his skull that doctors thought it must be crucial to his survival.
That presented an enormous medical challenge, his parents and doctors explained to STAT last week. The lead surgeon had never seen a case quite like this — and there were no textbooks to guide any of them through it.
Do nothing and Bentley almost certainly wouldn’t make it. Like a balloon filled with too much air, his skin was stretching thin over the mass as his brain grew and filled with fluid. If the bulb burst, he would surely die of an infection.
Operating was also a tremendous risk. The brain material was too big to fit back in his skull. And Bentley’s situation was so unusual, doctors couldn’t predict what would happen once they shaved off his luxurious light brown curls and cut into the mass.