When you meet Lynkin Bell, the first things you notice are her big personality and chubby cheeks. You might also see how she adores her brother Lukis and hamming it up for the camera. But you’d never guess that this playful 14-month-old from Texas wasn’t expected to survive, never mind talk, stand or play peekaboo like a pro.
And yet, thanks to her parents’ faith and persistence — and surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital — Lynkin can do all those things, and lots more, with the gusto befitting any toddler her age.
“It’s a miracle,” says Kaylen Gaston, Lynkin’s mom. “We were told so many times she wouldn’t make it, and here she is defying all odds.” …
As the year comes to a close, we look back on some of the most popular stories — from basic tips to second chances to ground-breaking surgeries. Thank you to the many families and patients who kindly contributed to the success of Thriving in 2016. As always, you inspire us. Happy New Year! …
Sierra Yoder was having a normal pregnancy, but the 20-week prenatal ultrasound seemed to tell another story. The Yoders learned that their child — a boy to be named Bentley — had something called an encephalocele. Brain tissue was bulging out of an abnormal opening in his skull, unprotected by bone.
“They said he had zero chance of survival — ‘incompatible with life,’ they told us,” recalls Sierra. “I specifically remember asking is there any chance he could survive? They said no, that in the best-case scenario, he’s going to be a vegetable. They made it out like I was going to lose him at any point.”
With that knowledge, the Yoders decided to end the pregnancy. But at the 11th hour, Sierra changed her mind. It didn’t feel right — Bentley was moving and kicking and had a strong heartbeat.
Early in 2015, Jennifer and Vincent Ramirez had everything they wanted — two healthy children: Violet, 5, and Vincent, 3, and they had just bought a new home in Salt Lake City. The couple decided to try for a third child.
Jennifer learned she was pregnant in a few weeks.
“Everything was going according to plan,” recalls Vincent. In July of 2015, the entire family packed into an exam room for Jennifer’s five-month ultrasound.
“The doctor wasn’t talking much, and the ultrasound seemed to be taking longer than usual,” says Jennifer. After the ultrasound was done, the doctor asked the couple if they could put their children in another room while they discussed the results.
“There’s something wrong with your baby’s head,” the doctor reported. The week after the ultrasound Jennifer had a fetal MRI. …