Courageous mum chooses life despite “hopeless” diagnosis for her unborn baby

Toni and her daughter Ava.
Toni and her daughter Ava.

The NZ Herald recently reported a beautiful good news story of a courageous young mother who chose to give life to her unborn baby after being told by her doctors that the child she was carrying, if it survived, would only live for a short time after she was born.

In a situation which must have been incredibly frightening, the mother, Toni, was told at a 16 week scan that one side of her baby’s brain was growing faster than the other.  At another scan Toni discovered there was no amniotic fluid around the baby.  Other scans revealed no facial bones, organs missing and underdeveloped lungs.  Toni was diagnosed with Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM), a condition which effects 2 out of every 100 pregnancies.

Toni was told there was no hope.

When medical experts believe there is no hope, the answer generally is to “terminate”.

This brave mother, when told by three medical experts to end the life of her baby, stood firm in her role to protect, love and nurture her little one.  She chose life despite the fear of the unknown.

With the support of her family, they discovered online cases overseas which gave them hope.  But Janine, Toni’s mother, recalls how adamant the medical professionals were

My daughter was bawling and the woman said: ‘This is not a Woman’s Weekly article, this is not going to be a miracle pregnancy, this baby is not going to survive’.

But at 32 weeks baby Ava was born.  She had none of the anomalies diagnosed prior to birth, although she did have a horseshoe kidney, something the scans didn’t pick up.  Because Ava was eight weeks premature, she spent time in NICU, but she was strong and was able to go home after two weeks.

At a time when prenatal screening is routine, this story (and the countless more that are similar), should serve as a warning for medical professionals, for parents and for families.  All too often, a prenatal diagnosis of an impairment, disability or life-limiting condition ends in abortion. Often this is because of pressure from the medical experts, from a lack of information about the conditions and a fear of the unknown.

But Baby Ava’s story shows that sometimes doctors get it wrong.

And even if they don’t get it wrong, why is the answer abortion?

Motherhood begins at the moment new life is conceived.  Mothers love, they protect, they nurture their children.  Toni, has shown mothers everywhere, who face the unknown, how to do this courageously.


An update of Toni and Baby Ava’s story can be found here.


  1. hey I am Ava’s Nana, mentioned in this webpage, im glad to see that people like you are up to date with stories that affect people on a daily basis. Ava’s case is most certainly a real eye opener

    1. Brave mom and her family !!!. I wonder what would be a father decision in a similar case.

  2. If a baby is expected to die, why kill Her? Makes Zero sense. Docs are being political. Bravo Toni and Ava!!!!! All life is precious.

    1. Exactly! I’ve never understood the ‘logic’ that says a child who is expected to have a short life should be deprived of whatever time he or she has left. Insanity!

    2. Thank you for this comment! Why do medical professionals think they are saving a mother sorrow and grief by ending a life early just because the child will die anyway? The mother will have horrible sorrow and grief regardless but the most haunting question of all is, what if the ultrasound was wrong?

  3. In reply to Judy “If a baby is expected to die, why kill Her? Makes Zero sense. ” … well one of the reasons I can think of .. MONEY!!! If they did the termination, they will pocket some of the fee right? hmm… Bravo to Toni and Janine!

  4. I was told at 5 months that my baby was very small and underdeveloped. They wanted to do tests which included inserting a cork-skrew wire into the baby;s skull. I asked the docs what would they do w that info, the answer, perhaps vitamin and nutritional treatments or reccommend an abortion. It seemed I could deal w better vitamins and nutrition and I said option 2 was not an option and I would prefer no wires in my baby;s head. I was forced to sign a paper that said they reccommended I get an abortion since I was refusing the test. Of course it was terrible and filled me w more than the usual anxiety a mom goes through while pregnant….My baby was born 2 weeks late. He was 23″ long and weighed 9lbs9oz!!! He was the most gorgeous baby blond and big brown eyes, very slight learning disability but a brilliant brain. He is now an adult and stands at 6’4″! Those docs are sued and I was later told they have to cover their butts as there are some, who after getting an “imperect,” child will sue the doctors. In my world, every child is perfect. I now tutor special needs children, with great success, and love my work!

  5. This strikes home so close for me.. My wife (who has a life-long illness which prevented us from having children until the age of 35) found out she was pregnant, then was told repeatedly the child would have multiple severe issues, due to necessary medications, and that his life expectancy would be minimal. We were urged to ‘terminate’ as well..

    We quit the first doctor on the spot, believing that GOD is the giver of life, and that it is His choice, not ours.

    Yes, it was tense. and hard. and very scarey. We prayed a lot,and sang a lot.

    But then our little bundle of love was born. And he had ZERO problems!

    Yesterday I watched him win a baseball game, at age 9. And when I think about those naysayers and critics (even in our own family!), I pity them for the guilt they must carry, having wished my son to die.

    There is no doubt in my mind that God brought him safely thru the womb, gave him life, and that life is from God, not to be dispensed at the whim of a doctor.

  6. I know of two stories that are similar. At four months my sister was told her child had died. There was no heartbeat. Two different sonograms at different weeks revealed the same thing. She was told to have an abortion for her heath. She refused and now her daughter is about to enter college. She’s is 100% perfect. No health problems at all.

    My cousin was diagnosed a few weeks before giving birth with down-syndrome. Abortion was urged. Her child was born healthy–100% healthy.

    Doctors misdiagnose all the time. And miracles happen all the time.

  7. Thank you Toni for your strength and teaching the world an important lesson! God Bless You Ava!

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