Bentley Yoder shouldn’t be alive. When he was born, nobody thought he would live because he has encephalocele, a congenital birth defect that pushed his brain out of his skull through a hole, Stat News reported. The portion of his brain that’s not in his skull is solely protected by skin. The protrusion looks like a large sac or cyst.
Encephalocele is usually fatal, but Bentley is a fighter. Bentley’s determination to live is the reason his mom and dad, Dustin and Sierra, picked up and traveled from Ohio to Boston Children’s Hospital. They put Bentley in the care of Dr. John Meara, a physician who has performed numerous surgeries on children with encephalocele. Like the Yoders, Meara was convinced that Bentley didn’t have to die. 


Based on what he knew about the case, according to Stat News, Meara wanted to slice Bentley’s skull in a couple of places to make more room for his brain. He also wanted to take pieces of Bentley’s skull and surgically attach them to the top of Bentley’s head. Before performing the surgery, Meara used three-dimensional models of Bentley’s brain and skull to figure out if his plan would work. He was convinced it would, so he operated on Bentley.

Bentley’s surgery was a success by all accounts. Bentley still doesn’t have enough skull for all of his brain to fit inside, but as his body grows doctors will try again and surgically close the hole in his skull according to the Times Reporter. Even though infants with encephalocele typically have developmental delays and nervous system problems according to the Centers for Disease Control, since the surgery, Bentley has defied the odds once again by meeting some of his developmental milestones. His family said to the Times Reporter that it's too early to know what will happen, so they are putting the situation in God’s hands and taking things one step at a time.