Boy Born Without A Brain Overcomes Unthinkable Odds

Life can throw people a lot of obstacles and that was especially true for Shelley and Rob Wall. The two were elated to be pregnant with a boy, but came to find out that doctors had more news for them. While doctors thought it might be best for them to terminate the pregnancy, the Walls knew their son was destined for an unforgettable life.

Meet Shelley And Rob Wall

shelley and rob wall giving an interview
Good Morning Britain/YouTube
Good Morning Britain/YouTube

Shelley and Rob Wall were an average married couple living in Cumbria, England. They already were the parents of two daughters but were ready to add another child to their family.

It all seemed like a good idea. They were a household filled with love and wanted to share that with a new baby.

Rob Hoped For A Boy

rob wall giving an interview
BBC/YouTube
BBC/YouTube

Since they already had two daughters, Rob was hoping that their third child would be a boy. He longed for someone to bond with over sports and other activities that his daughters weren’t interested in.

Luckily, Shelley became pregnant relatively soon. Rob was over the moon when he found out he would be getting a son after all.

Time For A Check-Up

shelley doing an interview
Good Morning Britain/YouTube
Good Morning Britain/YouTube

Shelley wasn’t new to this whole pregnancy thing, so she and Rob had a general idea of what to expect for the next nine months.

They were ready to go have a check-up with her doctor to see how she and the baby’s health were doing. However, the doctors had some alarming news.

Getting The News From The Doctor

rob wall doing an interview
Good Morning Britain/YouTube
Good Morning Britain/YouTube

While both of the Walls’ previous pregnancies had no complications, this one would be a lot different. The doctors did a scan of their baby and found some unsettling results.

After looking at Shelley’s womb, they noticed that there was a significant abnormality in the baby’s skull. This abnormality could be life-threatening.

What The Abnormality Meant

a chest shot of a doctor with his equipment
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The doctors told Shelley and Rob that there would be issues with his brain and development. He also was diagnosed with spina bifida, which meant his spine and spinal cord didn’t form correctly.

These unfortunate abnormalities would cause their son to have a much different life than they ever imagined.

Shelley And Rob Almost Lost Hope

Illustration picture shows a doctor doing an ultrasound examination
Jasper Jacobs/Getty Images
Jasper Jacobs/Getty Images

The image of the “perfect” son the Walls thought they would get was gone after they got the news from the doctor.

The doctor told them how these things would limit the baby’s chances for a good life and then made a devastating suggestion. It might be a better choice to terminate the pregnancy.

The Big Decision

An obstetrician visits a pregnant woman
Sergei Malgavko/Getty Images
Sergei Malgavko/Getty Images

Shelley and Rob were now aware of their son’s health issues and took what their doctor said into consideration.

After giving it a lot of thought, the Walls knew that the best thing for them would be to have the baby. They weren’t getting any younger and were prepared for their son’s future challenges.

Knowing They Made The Right Decision For Them

shelley wall giving an interview
BBC/YouTube
BBC/YouTube

The Walls wanted to give their daughters a little brother and were desperate to make sure he had a healthy life.

At first, the doctors didn’t agree with their decision and they continued to pressure Shelley into terminating the pregnancy. Even with all the pressure from the doctors, the Walls were ready to meet their son.

Would The Baby Make It Through The Pregnancy?

A pregnant woman holds her belly
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

There was a lot of concern around whether or not their son would be able to survive to the full term of the pregnancy.

The positivity of Shelley and Rob must have helped a lot because Shelley was just about ready to give birth to their son. It wouldn’t be an easy birth, though.

Their Son Is Born

noah in an incubator after being born
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Noah Wall was born on March 6, 2012, via C-section. His spina bifida meant he would be paralyzed from the chest down, but there was more.

He also developed hydrocephalus because a cyst destroyed his brain, which was filled with cerebrospinal fluid. This caused immense pressure in his skull and eyes, so doctors were forced to operate almost immediately.

Noah’s First Few Hours Were Brutal

noah after he was just born
Hugs For Noah
Hugs For Noah

Doctors had to place a shunt in Noah’s skull to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid and remove the pressure on his brain tissue.

One thing that caught the doctors off-guard during Noah’s delivery was that he was able to let out a shrieking cry after leaving the womb. This gave Shelley and Rob some hope.

Another Operation For Noah

noah in the hospital as a baby with shelley
Hugs For Noah
Hugs For Noah

Not only did Noah need a shunt placed in his skull after his birth, but doctors needed to operate on him once again.

The spina bifida caused part of his back to not fully close, so doctors had to close the opening. Both operations ended up being a success, but he still needed to go for an MRI scan.

An MRI Scan To Remember

black and white image of noah as a baby
Hugs For Noah
Hugs For Noah

Since Noah was born with hydrocephalus, he needed to get an MRI scan to check out how his brain was functioning.

Shelley and Rob knew he wouldn’t have all of his brains, but weren’t prepared for how little he had. Noah was born with only two percent of his brain with just a small, thin layer at the front of his head.

What This Would Mean For Noah

noah and shelley wall smiling for a photo
BBC/YouTube
BBC/YouTube

Shelley and Rob were now fully aware of how severe Noah’s brain development was and they were ready to give him as much care and attention as possible.

Luckily, Noah’s brain stem wasn’t damaged. This meant that even with two percent of his brain he could breathe, eat, and drink.

Noah Was A Happy Baby

baby noah with a construction worker
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Noah’s diagnosis was harsh, but he didn’t let it stop him from living the best life he could. His parents and siblings would describe him as a happy baby.

Noah didn’t let his disabilities get in the way and was eager to meet many of his developmental milestones. His parents never put any pressure on him, but he was ready to live up to his potential.

Noah Started Developing

noah as a toddler with a doll
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

After babies are born, parents often look at particular milestones, such as walking and talking, to see how they are developing.

At three years old, Noah was aware of everything going on around him, was emotionally intelligent, and was at the early stages of talking. This would seem impossible with only two percent of a brain.

Back For Another MRI Scan

noah and his family smiling for a photo
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Noah’s parents knew there must be more activity going on in his brain, so they took him for another MRI scan.

The nurse in charge of his scan was visibly enthusiastic after looking at the results and immediately showed them to the doctor. This news was something none of the Walls were expecting to hear.

Noah Defied The Odds

noah's brain scan showing its growth
BBC/YouTube
BBC/YouTube

The doctor informed the Walls that Noah’s brain grew immensely since his birth. After six years, Noah had gained over 80 percent of his brain back.

“Some people say you can’t grow a brain, some say his brain was there, all squashed up, so when he’s had his shunt fitted, it’s gone back to where it should be…” said Rob Wall.

The Shunt Saved His Brain

noah pulling himself up
Good Morning Britain/YouTube
Good Morning Britain/YouTube

The shunt given to Noah after his birth is likely what allowed his brain to grow back. Some may think that since his brain was squashed when he was born that he would be mentally disabled.

Well, that didn’t happen and the Walls were just glad that Noah was able to keep advancing each day.

Shelley Is So Proud Of Her Little Boy

noah giving a peace sign
BBC/YouTube
BBC/YouTube

“To hear his brain’s almost back to normal is beyond belief. Rob and I broke down when we heard the news. It was like a dream.

I’ve never known anything like it. Even the consultants were in tears. Every time we see the doctors, they just shake their heads. They’re just amazed at what he can do,” said Shelley Wall.

Noah’s Family Helps Him A Lot

noah with his mom, dad, and sister
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

One of the best ways to keep a brain developing is to do specific exercises that will stimulate it as much as possible.

Noah’s parents and older sister Steph have devoted a lot of their lives to making sure Noah can succeed. They do “brain-training” with him in order to keep his brain stimulated.

Everyone Is Impressed With What Noah Can Do

noah at 5 coloring with a marker
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

His family shared that by the time Noah was four-years-old he was able to go to school, count to 10, and talk.

By the time he was five, Noah could write with a pen, knew how to spell his name, and was able to hold a conversation. Someday he hopes to become a fireman.

Shelley Knew He Had So Much Potential

shelley wall doing an interview
BBC/YouTube
BBC/YouTube

“He has been chatting so much more and pronouncing his words. He has started writing, he can follow my finger and write his name.

His concentration was just unbelievable with the pen, I didn’t know that this day would ever come. You can see the excitement, and he knows that he had done something amazing. He amazes us every day,” said Shelley Wall.

The Walls Want The World To Know About Noah

noah making a heart with his hands
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Noah’s story is so inspiring that the Walls want people to learn about everything he had to go through to get to where he is today.

His parents took him to Australia to an intense brain training center where they tried to get him to start walking, surfing, and skiing. Noah can sit up without assistance and can kneel on all fours.

Noah’s Special Treatment

noah doing indoor skydiving
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Since Noah’s case was so rare, he continues to go through neurophysics treatment to make sure his brain can develop further.

Some of his typical activities include horseback riding and skydiving. Noah is one of the youngest people to ever experience this treatment and it seems to be going great.

He Has His Own Website

a screenshot of the hugs for noah website
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Noah’s mother created the Hugs for Noah website where the family can share updates on his life for people all over the world to see.

She also wants to raise awareness about taking folic acid during pregnancy because doing so can decrease the risk of spine and brain defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

Noah Makes Headlines

noah dressed as an elf with a christmas tree and presents
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Against all odds, Noah continues to do good for others. He made headlines after dressing up as an elf on Christmas to deliver 2,500 presents to both patients and staff at Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, England.

“The thing is, it’s good to give. I was born with a little bit of brain. It just grew bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Noah Wall.

Noah Remains Full Of Hope

noah next to some leg casts
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Noah’s story is unlike no other and his parents are grateful every day for deciding to continue with the pregnancy.

Both Shelley and Rob have sacrificed a lot for the well-being of their child, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. They hope that Noah can inspire others out there to never give up.

Noah Is Growing Up

noah on his 9th birthday
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

Noah is now nine and a half and continues to challenge himself daily. Even though his spina bifida caused him to be born paralyzed from the waist down, he is determined to walk on his own.

People from around the world love leaving positive comments on his website, Hugs for Noah, including those from California, Australia, India, Romania, and more.

Noah Wrote A Book

noah in a black and white photo with an unstoppable t-shirt
hugsfornoah/Instagram
hugsfornoah/Instagram

As he gets older, Noah is exploring all of the fun and creative things he is capable of doing. One of those just happens to be writing his own book.

Hugs for Noah – A Day at the Zoo is about raising awareness about disabilities, being in a wheelchair, and living with spina bifida.