New Jersey baby missing chunk of his skull defies the odds to survive

A New Jersey “miracle baby” with a rare, life-threatening skull condition wasn’t expected to live more than a day but now he’s seven months old — and the first such case in the world to survive, according to a new report.

Maria Santa Maria, of Garfield, gave birth to her son Lucas in March knowing that he had a condition called exencephaly — meaning that he is missing a large area of his skull — and that the prognosis was very poor, ABC 7 reported.

She found out about her son’s condition when she was only 10 weeks pregnant and was told that he may not live past the day of his birth.

“And they recommended abortion, so that’s not what I wanted to do,” Santa Maria told the station.

So she prepared her three daughters for what she thought would be their baby brother’s first and last day, she said.

“When we were in the delivery room … we didn’t know what to expect,” Santa Maria said. “So they came in [and] were told their baby brother was going to die.”

But Lucas pulled through, thanks to a groundbreaking surgery performed by doctors at the North Jersey Brain and Spine Center, including Dr. Tim Vogel.

“He’s so unique,” Vogel told ABC. “Most of the children that are born with this condition die after several hours.”

“The skull doesn’t form, so the brain is exposed to the intrauterine environment and usually that causes a lot of damage,” the doctor added.

As Lucas’ skull bone grows, Vogel will shave a layer from it to fill in sunken areas and give the infant a more rounded head, he said.

Meanwhile, Lucas remains an otherwise healthy baby and has started eating cereal and baby food, his mom said.

It’s not clear how far Lucas will be able to advance physically and mentally but Vogel said he’s excited by the infant’s progress to date.

“It’s just awesome to be a part of something that is so unique and to really know there’s a promising future for Lucas,” the doctor said.

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