By Pat Centner, AFA Journal staff writer
January 2001 – Miracle baby Samuel Armas celebrated his first birthday on December 2, 2000. You may remember Samuel as the subject of the "most amazing photograph of the 20th century." USA Today's image of Samuel's tiny hand reaching out of his mother's womb and grasping the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner rocked the world September, 1999. In August, Dr. Bruner and a team at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, had operated on Samuel while he was still in his mother's womb to repair a spina bifida lesion on his spine.
At the time, Samuel was 21 weeks old, the typical age at which abortionists use forceps to draw a fetus feet-first into its mother's birth canal for a partial birth abortion. In the procedure, the skull remains in the uterus, then is pierced or crushed and the contents are suctioned out.
Up until this photo, pro-choice groups had maintained that a fetus at this age was little more than a not-yet-human "blob." But Samuel proved them wrong.
Samuel's parents, Alex and Julie, had known, of course, that abortion was a legal alternative. Fortunately for Samuel, they didn't even consider it. "We have always believed life begins at conception, and we never wavered, not even when it was actually our decision to make, and not mere words that we say," explains Julie. "My husband's first words after we received the news were, ‘Well, we wanted a baby and this is the one God has chosen to give us.'"
Although Vanderbilt had performed previous fetal surgeries, Samuel was the youngest ever to undergo such an operation. The risky surgery was a resounding success, and Samuel was born on December 2, 1999, weighing 5 lbs 11 oz.
In an E-mail to AFA Journal, Julie Armas provided an update on Samuel as he approached his first birthday. Here is what Julie said:
Samuel continues to do well. He weighed 20 lbs. 12 oz. on November 27. He wears lower leg braces and twister straps to keep his ankles from turning in. He is pulling up to furniture and can stand holding on to something for several minutes. At our last spina bifida clinic appointment, the orthopedist said he believes Samuel will walk well, and even run! Also, Samuel has never developed hydrocephalus, and the brain malformation seen prenatally appears to have reversed following the fetal surgery. He is, of course, the cutest thing you have ever seen!
On Thanksgiving, I was making breakfast and my heart and tears started overflowing with praise to God for his goodness in general, but especially where my precious angel was concerned. Most of all, I am thankful to Him for allowing me to be born into a home where I was given the Christian heritage and values that would not allow me to make a "choice" that would have denied me the sheer joy of knowing this child. Furthermore, he gave me the dearest, sweetest, husband who not only supported my decision but makes it clear every day through his actions that he believes Samuel is perfect in every way. We have been so blessed. Praise be to GOD!