When it comes down to it, most parents just hope that their baby is happy and healthy; nothing else really matters. Of course, some people want a specific gender of the baby and may be disappointed to hear that they are expecting the opposite. But at the end of the day, a healthy baby is all that’s really important. There’s a ton of complications that come along with having a child. Everything has to be right in order to assure the safety of both the mother and the baby. Many times, though, there is nothing else other than hope that nothing goes wrong.
Birth defects have a wide range of severity, with most being correctable after the baby is born. Other rarer defects need to be fixed with surgery while some can’t be fixed at all. In extremely rare cases, such as you’ll see below, there’s really nothing that can be done. Certain defects spell a death sentence for babies, with only a handful (only one in some cases) surviving past infancy. Before you view the images below, you should be warned—some of what you’re about to see are graphic. Many of the images taken are of children who were born with severe defects. Some weren’t even able to make it. There are some heartwarming, triumphant tales mixed in, but there are also some unsettling pictures of babies with irreparable birth defects.
15. Baby With Three Arms
Polymelia is a rare birth defect that causes children to be born with extra limbs. This disorder is caused by development in the womb where the embryo begins to develop conjoined twins but never finishes, resulting in a baby with multiple limbs. A baby with this disorder will usually have one or two extra limbs that are deformed in comparison to their regular arms and/or legs. One of the more recent cases of a baby being born with Polymelia occurred in India in 2014. The little boy was born with two arms on his left side. These cases get a lot of publicity because they only affect one in one million babies. Though the surgery was risky, the baby underwent a successful operation to have his third arm removed.
14. Kieran Veitz
Kieran Veits was diagnosed with Ectopia Cordis before she was even born. Ectopia Cordis often prompts mothers to terminate the pregnancy. This disorder is serious, and is characterized by the baby having his/her heart located outside of the body. The condition is usually fatal, which is why many mothers decide to end the pregnancy. However, young Kieran kept on fighting and had just recently turned two. Kieran was especially unique as her liver was also on the outside of her body. But with careful medical attention, it appears that she will be able to live much longer than initially anticipated. The advancement of medicine is credited with allowing Kieran to live as long as she has. Her parents take each day as a blessing, knowing that nothing can be taken for granted.
13. Arshid Ali Khan
Arshid Ali Khan was born with a rare defect that was even rarer when considering the other people included on this list. His defect was actually beneficial to him. He was born with a small, fleshy tail, which impeded his ability to walk. He kept the tail until he was 14 years old, though, because the village in which he was born regarded his defect as divine. Many members of the community actually worshiped Kahn as a “Monkey God.” His parents wanted to have the tail removed but push-backs from the community stopped them until he was older. Many people actually believed that Kahn was a god because of his defect, and fought against the family’s wishes. Kahn eventually had it removed and was able to walk more easily afterwards.
12. Sam Berns
Sam Berns was born with Progeria, which is one of the rarest disorders to affect human babies. Only about one in every eight million babies are born with this disorder, but Sam Berns happened to be one of them. Progeria is very recognizable as it is characterized by young children having the features of old age. Because their body ages so much faster than normal, those afflicted with this disorder usually only live until they are about 20 years old. Sam Berns died when he was only 17. Sam lived life to the fullest and presented inspirational messages for others with and without his affliction. He was an avid fan of Boston sports teams, and saw his teams win nine championships in his lifetime.
11. Gabriel Mason
Gabriel Mason was diagnosed with a rare disorder known as Proteus Syndrome. Proteus Syndrome is characterized by an abnormal amount of bone and tissue growth. Many people may know of the disease as it was made popular by the play and film Elephant Man. Unlike the subject of the film, the disorder affects Mason’s feet, legs, buttocks, and back. At only seventeen months of age, Mason had to undergo surgery on his foot to amputate an enlarged toe and remove excess bone from his foot. The boy will have to have surgery around every six months in order to ensure that his growth remains normal. The family was dumbfounded by the diagnosis, as it is said to affect only one in one million children.
10. Roona Begum
Hydrocephalus is a rare disorder that occurs when cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain, causing massive swelling in the head. This can be fatal, but is now treatable with surgery. While it’s extremely rare, it can happen to someone of any age, but is more commonly found in infants. Roona Begum of India was diagnosed with an extreme case of this disorder, and was lucky to survive. The surgery to reduce the fluid in her skull saved her life and reduced the size of her head from 37 inches to 23 inches. It is still much larger than a normal head, and Roona will face many obstacles in relation to this defect. But she and her family can be thankful that she survived with as little damage as possible.
9. Brenna Westlake
Brenna Westlake was born with an extremely rare condition called Harlequin Ichthyosis. Others that have been born in other parts of the world have been called “alien babies,” and this condition used to have been proven as fatal early in a child’s life. Advancement in medicine has allowed some children with the disorder to live a full life, with a woman recently making it to 30 with the disorder. Westlake was born with patches of skin covering her body. Her red eyes are sunken making them virtually unrecognizable. Her skin grows at a rate much faster than a normal person’s, resulting in diamond-shaped skin deposits all over her body. Neither of her parents had any idea of her condition before she was born, and the surprise they experienced when they saw their child is understandable.
8. Ana Rochelle Pondare
Ana Rochelle Pondare also suffered from the rare disease, progeria, which severely shortens the lifespan of the afflicted. For people with progeria, the body is unable to produce the essential Lamin A protein. People with progeria are said to age about ten times faster than normal humans, making them susceptible to other diseases and disorders along the way. Pondare beat the odds when she got to celebrate her eighteenth birthday celebration. Before her death, her doctor told her that she was essentially 144 years old. Out of 80 known cases of progeria, Ana Rochelle Pondare has lived the longest. While this is still an extremely rare condition, research is constantly being conducted to limit the number of babies who suffer from it and improve the length of life for those who do.
7. Song Sheng
Song Sheng of Jinhu, China began to develop scales on his skin when he was only days old. The doctors believed that it was caused by a disorder called Lamellar Ichthyosis. This disorder is characterized by the inability to cool the skin, resulting in the shedding of the outer layer of skin and the development of fish-like scales all over the body. Song Sheng must be laid in baths of ice to cool his skin, and is often left in agony when his parents run out of ice. He suffers from constant fever because of the disorder. As of now, there’s still no known cure for the rare disease. The disorder can only be managed and treated, but as of now, this extremely rare birth defect has no end in sight.
6. Angela Morales
Anencephaly is a rare and serious genetic disorder when the brain and the skull fail to fully develop. Babies who are born with this disorder almost always die shortly after they are born. Because of this, many doctors advise that mothers confirmed to be having a baby with the disorder should abort them in order to avoid the turmoil that comes with carrying a baby to term, only to have it die within moments of being born. Angela Morales, though, was an exception to the rule. She survived for over a year after her birth and remains alive today. Her mother refused to abort her, and after her birth, Angela kept on surviving. She is the first baby with anencephaly to live this long, which gives hope that other babies with the same disorder may be able to live a full life.
5. Supatra Sasuphan
Eleven-year old Supatra Sasuphan was named “The World’s Hairiest Girl” by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 due to her rare disorder called Ambras Syndrome. There are only 50 people alive known to be suffering from this disorder, but the origins have roots throughout history. There have been documented cases of Ambras Syndrome since the Middle Ages, and it is theorized that some of the original sufferers of the disorder were dubbed werewolves. For Sasuphan’s part, she feels as though her recognition was a blessing. She was constantly teased by her classmates, but says that her new appointment as hairiest girl in the world has given her newfound popularity with the other students. She’s had a hard life…one that began with multiple surgeries to even allow her to breathe. Nevertheless, the young Sasuphan seems to still have a positive outlook on the world.
4. Lakshmi Tatma
Lakshmi Tatma had one of the rarest forms of one of the rarest birth defects that affect humans. Like earlier entries on this list, Tatma suffered from Polymelia. It is caused by incomplete conjoined twins, where one child is born with extra limbs that were absorbed in the womb. In Lakshmi Tatma’s case, these were four extra limbs. She had four arms and four legs, making early life extremely difficult for the child. Because the severity of her condition was so rare, National Geographic even did a piece on her. When she was two, doctors decided that it would be safe to operate. Working in shifts, 30 doctors operated on the girl for 27 hours before they successfully removed her extra limbs. Lakshmi Tatma is now able to live a normal life, one that she may not have known had her extra set of limbs remained attached.
3. Shiloh Pepin
From a girl with too many legs to a girl with not enough. Shiloh Pepin was diagnosed with an extremely rare case of sirenomelia, where her legs are fused together. She was only one of three people alive to be suffering from such a disorder. Because her legs were fused together, many of the important organs were absent or damaged. She required over 150 surgeries in order to survive, and beat the odds by living much longer than anyone expected. Because of her appearance, many people dubbed her “the world’s first mermaid.” She made a handful of media appearances as a young girl, but unfortunately did not live long enough to truly make the most out of the world. Shiloh Pepin died of pneumonia in 2009 at the age of ten.
2. Manar Maged
One of the most bizarre and rare birth defects on this list is the one of Manar Maged’s, who was born with her twin attached to her head. The defect itself is called craniopagus parasiticus and is caused when conjoined twins don’t fully develop. The incomplete twin attached to Maged’s head could blink and smile, but would not be able to survive if detached. Sixteen hours of surgery was performed on Maged when she was only ten months old to remove the conjoined twin. It was deemed a success and she went home with her family. Unfortunately, she suffered from repeated infections in her brain and did not survive past the age of two. In all of human history there have only been ten known cases of craniopagus parasiticus, with only three surviving past birth.
1. Cyclops Baby
Cyclopia is exactly what it sounds like. It is the extremely rare case of a baby being born with one eye instead of two. This is caused by the lack of development in the womb, but is not known to be caused by genetics. Cases of cyclopia are only known to occur when the mother is exposed to outside forces such as radiation or medication. If the mother is going through cancer treatment, one of the rare outcomes could be a baby with cyclopia. The babies almost always die after birth, and this was the case with the most recent child born in Egypt. The baby was born without a nose and had severe internal problems as well. There is virtually no chance of children being born with this disease but in extremely rare cases, it can be present as it was with this child.