Jul 20, 2013 09:30 AM EDT By Vishakha Sonawane
A girl, who was born without a brain, has managed to survive six years with the help of a partially functioning brain stem.
Kaliysha Barrett was born with hydranencephaly, a rare disease in which brain's cerebral hemispheres are absent and replaced by sacs filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Doctors did not have much hope about the child's survival as most of the children with this condition do not survive beyond their first birthday.
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"The brain stem is a part of the nervous system that controls autonomic functioning like the trigger to breathe and maintain blood pressure and things like that," said Dr. Nicholas Bambakidis, director of cerebrovascular and skull base surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland,
"It's possible to have those autonomic functions still active without having the cerebral cortex, the part that (Kaliysha) is missing, which controls the higher functioning things like personality, memory and speech working," he said explaining that brain stem controls play an important role in survival.
Fox 59 reported that Kaliysha's mother Apple Barrett said that her daughter is a fighter and it is a miracle that she has lived so long. She was told a week before her delivery that her baby won't survive after birth.
"My doctor told me a week before I delivered that she would be born without a brain, and he told me to go take a picture of my belly, that that would be the last time she would be alive," Barrett said. "I was devastated every time she kicked. It made me cry because I was like, this is the last time you'll be alive?"
Barrett has set up a fund, 'Pace of Miracles,' to collect money for Kaliysha's funeral. The child's recent illness damaged her brain stem and now she is in hospice care, an end-of-life care provided by health professionals and volunteers.