Infant survives, thrives after being born without part of his skull

Posted at 6:42 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 18:42:56-04

SALT LAKE CITY - After finding out they were pregnant, Ben and Alyssa Reidhead thought they were going to the doctor to find out the sex of their baby.

"We were going in for one of the happiest times of our lives and come out walking like we just heard the worst news we could’ve ever heard," Ben Reidhead said.

At 23 weeks, doctors told them their son's brain was growing outside of his skull.

"They just kept saying oh he’ll be born but he’ll only live for a couple minutes or if you go through labor, he’ll probably pass away during labor," Alyssa Reidhead said.

Diagnosed with a rare condition called encephalocele, doctors had very little hope, so the Reidheads started planning a funeral.

"We picked out a casket and we picked out what we were going to do," Alyssa Reidhead said.

Instead of anticipation, Alyssa Reidhead's pregnancy was full of fear.

"Almost scared of having the baby come not because we didn’t want him to come but just because we were afraid of losing him," Ben Reidhead said.

However, when she delivered by C-section last week at Primary Children’s Hospital, the couple was shocked.

"We heard a cry and that made me cry and him cry because we were like, ‘oh he’s crying,’" Alyssa Reidhead said.

Their little boy Will has defied the odds.

"He’s not hooked up to anything. He’s breathing fine. He’s lifting his head. He’s moving around. He’s pretty much acting like a completely normal baby," Alyssa Reidhead said.

Will's been diagnosed with an even more rare disease called Aplasia Cutis Congenita, where he's missing the back of his skull. His brain is only covered by a thin layer of membrane.

Doctors still aren't sure about a game plan moving forward.

"They’ve been consulting with a lot of other doctors and trying to figure out exactly what is the best option," Ben Reidhead said.

The road ahead for baby Will won't be easy. He's going to have some special needs, but his parents couldn't be more grateful.

Anyone wishing to help the Reidheads with medical costs can visit their Go Fund Me page at