It was heartbreaking when we were told to abort our baby at 12 weeks

Heartbroken parents faced with the option to end their baby at 12 weeks – when a scan revealed it may not survive the birth.

Brenda Dortman and Francis Casey’s little boy had a number of health issues that showed up on the key scan.

Little Frankie has now made it home after weeks in the hospital


Little Frankie has now made it home after weeks in the hospitalPhoto credit: Mirrorpix

His organs grew outside his body, and medical professionals thought it was likely he might have Down syndrome.

Doctors said the parents could terminate the pregnancy, but the couple refused to give up.

Luckily baby Frankie survived and is now back home with his loved ones.

Brenda told BelfastLive: “We learned from our 12 week scan of Frankie’s anomalies, a large exomphalos was detected.

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“Exomphalos is an abdominal wall defect in which some of its organs are external. In Frankie’s case, it’s his liver and intestines that we know about to this day.

“Exomphalos is often associated with chromosomal abnormalities such as Edwards, Downs and Patau syndrome.

“In our case, medical professionals were almost certain that Frankie had Edwards syndrome and we were told that Edwards babies do not live very long after birth, so we were often offered the option of termination.”

But luckily, tests showed he didn’t have Edwards, Downs or Patau’s syndrome.

However, it was discovered that little Frankie had a VSD heart defect known as a hole in the heart.

Early in all pregnancies, the gut develops in the umbilical cord and then migrates to the abdomen, usually a few weeks later.

In the exomphalos, the viscera remain within the umbilical cord but outside the abdomen.

The abdominal cavity often does not develop properly and remains small.

Despite all this, Frankie lived to term before spending 27 days in the Newborn and High Dependency Unit at the Royal Maternity Hospital in Belfast.

After four months and a lot of traveling for his parents, Frankie was able to go home.

Now 10 months old, he is “thriving” and is slowly transitioning to solid food and drinking from a cup.

His mother added: “Frankie is such a delight in general. A very well behaved and happy child despite all his anomalies, medical needs and everything he has been through.”

The family wants to give back after being so impressed with the care they received at the hospital.

They are hosting a fundraising day on July 2nd where a group of 60 people will climb Slieve Donard in honor of Frankie.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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