The parents of a seven-year-old boy, who has Down’s syndrome and was given a zero per cent chance of survival in the womb, say he shows them “what true joy looks like”.
US couple Aaron and Amy Vawter were told their unborn son Matthew had severe heart defects, two clubbed feet, fluid around his kidneys and enlarged ventricles in his brain after a routine scan at 20 weeks.
Doctors told the couple that there was “no reason” for Amy to put herself and her body “through the rest of the pregnancy”, and offered an abortion, which the Vawters refused.
A doctor then continued to pressure Amy after her husband Aaron left the room to look after their other child, Micah.
She recalled the doctor saying “Don’t let your husband influence what you do with your body. We can take you upstairs today and do the abortion.”
Amy continued with the pregnancy, and further testing revealed that their son had Down’s syndrome.
The couple began to come to terms with the expected loss of their child, but knew they needed to keep the baby – Aaron said, “If all he ever knows is that he’s loved, that will be enough”.
As the pregnancy went on, ultrasounds showed improvements in Matthew’s kidneys, brain and heart.
He was born weighing just over four pounds, and spent the first months of his life on and off oxygen and feeding tubes.
But he only needed one operation on his heart, and now he is seven years old.
Amy documents her experiences as a mother on her blog called “Matthew Nicholas Vawter”.
She wrote: “Matthew surprises us every day. He challenges and entertains, while showing us what true joy looks like. His compassion for others is far beyond his years, and he is adored by all who know him. With Matthew, we experience a love so pure, it takes your breath away.
“In a world where many children with Down syndrome are never given a chance, Matthew proves that children with disabilities can exceed our expectations in so many ways.
“I can’t possibly put into words all that he means to our family, or what an incredible honor it is to raise such a precious soul”, she said.
In Great Britain, doctors can approve abortions up to full term if they think there is a “substantial risk” that the child will be seriously handicapped, under ground E of the abortion Act – this includes conditions such as Down’s syndrome.