The mother of a toddler with a rare condition that causes his brain to grow through a crack in his skull is hopeful that her son, now 21 months old, will live a normal life after other people advised her to abort him before he was born.

“When they gave me Ollie to hold, I was so surprised that I almost couldn’t speak,” Amy Poole, Ollie’s 22-year-old mother, told Mirror.co.uk. “He was so tiny, but there was this enormous golf-ball sized lump on his nose. At first I wasn’t sure how I would cope, but I knew I would love him no matter what he looked like.”

Ollie suffers from encephalocele, a rare type of neural tube defect that occurs when the neural tube does not close completely during pregnancy, leaving an opening in the midline of the upper part of the skull, Mirror.co.uk reported. Doctors first alerted Poole to the condition during her 20-week scan.

Since his February 2014 birth, Ollie has undergone several surgeries to help him breathe. Most recently excess fluid was removed from his nose.

“I was so scared to let Ollie undergo such major surgery. He was so fragile, and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him,” Poole told the news site. “But doctors explained that he was at risk of contracting an infection or even meningitis if he tripped and knocked his nose— so I agreed to the surgery.”

In addition to his health complications, the mother and son also endure cruel comments from strangers who tell Poole she should have terminated the pregnancy. Poole said the comments are “absolutely heart-breaking.”

“To me, Ollie is perfect. He is my little real-life Pinocchio and I couldn’t be prouder of him,” she told Mirror.co.uk.

Doctors are monitoring Ollie’s condition and his growth to determine when he will next undergo surgery.
 

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