It used to be only in fiction that a person could survive without a brain. However, as a courageous 10-year-old girl is proving, it’s quite possible to survive with nearly all of the vital organ missing.
Omaha, Nebraska’s Alex Simpson was born with hydranencephaly, a rare congenital disorder that means Alex was born missing most of her cerebral hemispheres, or, the left and right parts of her brain. Usually, most babies born with the devastating disorder don’t make it past their first birthday, but Alex has managed to make it to age 10 and her parents are hoping for more.
Alex was born seemingly healthy a decade ago and showed no signs of any health issues until she began uncontrollably crying for as many as 20 hours a day, according to parents Shawn and Lorena Simpson. When they took baby Alex to the hospital, doctors informed them of the the tragic news. “He says Alex was born with condition called hydranencephaly, born without a brain,” Shawn recalled to KETV. “90 percent of babies with this abort themselves before they are born, or they die before six months.”
The Simpsons spent the next six months agonizing over their baby girl’s pending death. “This is the day, today will be the day,” mom Lorena remembers thinking. But that day never came, not that there wasn’t a close call when Alex stopped breathing and her heart stopped in the past. Other than that, doctors say Alex is pretty healthy and suspect a stroke while in her mother’s womb which cut off the blood flow to her brain is what’s responsible for her condition.
Despite missing both halves of her brain, Alex still has a little bit of her cerebellum left, which controls her balance, movement, coordination and ability to be conscious and aware of her surroundings. “She knows her mom and dad, her little brother. She knows when good things are going on around her. She knows when bad things are going on; she will cry or have a sad face.”
The family tells KETV they’re grateful for Alex and wouldn’t change anything. “We have learned to love her the way she is. She has blessed our family so much.”
As Newser reports, the longest anyone has ever lived with hydranencephaly was 33.