14/08/2014 16:49 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Noah's Chances Of Survival Were So Slim His Parents Bought His Coffin. But He's Just Celebrated His First Birthday

Parents bought coffin for poorly unborn son - but he's just had his first birthday

A baby's first birthday is a special moment for any parent – but for Shelly and Rob Wall their little boy's milestone was an overwhelmingly emotional occasion.

For baby Noah's chances of survival were so low that his parents bought a coffin for him even before he was born.

When he was in his mum's womb, Noah was diagnosed with a catalogue of problems including spina bifida, rare chromosomal abnormalities and fluid on the brain.

His mum and dad were advised to have him terminated but they refused. And when he was born, Noah was paralysed from the chest down and with a tiny amount of normal brain tissue – most of his skull was filled with cerebrospinal fluid.

But the little fighter has stunned doctors by reaching his first birthday and has even learned to move his arms, smile, wave and say 'mama' and 'dada'.

Shelly, 41, from Abbeytown, Cumbria, said: "He is an absolute gift and we are very lucky that he is here. "Before he was born we received a letter saying he would not be resuscitated if he couldn't breathe on his own because his condition was so serious.


To be pregnant and have to go to a funeral parlour to pick a coffin for your unborn baby is absolutely horrible.


"My sister made a christening outfit for him and we had a birthday cake because we thought it could be the only birthday he would ever have."

Parents bought coffin for poorly unborn son - but he's just had his first birthday

Incredibly, when Noah was born on March 6 last year, he took his first breath and began crying. As a result, doctors changed their minds and carried out a five-hour operation to stitch up the hole in his back. He was allowed home after 10 days but had to return to hospital for two months when doctors discovered an infection in the fluid in his head.

Shelly said: "The first thing we heard when he was born was him taking a breath and then crying, which was unbelievable.

"We had been told that he wouldn't be going down to the baby care unit because they were adamant that he wouldn't take a breath and said it would be cruel to keep a baby alive on oxygen.

"It is amazing the things that he can do with such a small amount of brain - he folds his arms, can open his eyes, wave to you, say 'mama' and 'dada' and tell you when he is hungry."

Noah requires constant supervision, has to be massaged five times a day and requires regular sessions of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

His skull is fitted with a shunt which is used to drain the cerebrospinal fluid from his head.

His mum said: "We don't know how long he will live but we won't put a time on him. We just enjoy every day and do as much as we can with him.

'We spend a lot of quality time with him and he gets a lot of attention. We don't know what he will be capable of but he is going in the right direction."

Shelly now raises money for Noah, and awareness about spina bifida by running a shop which sells products such as clothes, bags and teddy bears.

She said: "By telling our story we want to inspire others who are pregnant with disabled babies not to give up hope.

"We also want to make sure mothers take folic acid and vitamin B12 before their pregnancy as well as during as a lack of these vitamins can cause spina bifida.

"There are 900 pregnancies with spinal defects every year and only 200 babies are actually born.

"I wish someone had told me about the importance of taking folic acid before pregnancy. I had taken it, but not early enough."