Wake Up Wednesday: Samuel….

Have you seen this photo?


I’m sure I have, but never the story behind it.

Julie and Alex Armas found out through an ultrasound that their baby had spina bifida. (His brain was misshapen and his spine not fully closed.)

Julie (a labor and delivery nurse herself) began researching the condition on the internet, and found a doctor who had been performing a ground breaking surgery.

He would remove the uterus, open it, carefully close the opening in the spine, and then return the uterus.

When Julie was 21 weeks pregnant, she had this very surgery.  It was the surgical team’s 54th surgery done on a baby in utero.    A photographer was called in……

And then, this happened.

As a doctor asked me what speed of film I was using, out of the corner of my eye I saw the uterus shake, but no one’s hands were near it. It was shaking from within. Suddenly, an entire arm thrust out of the opening, then pulled back until just a little hand was showing. The doctor reached over and lifted the hand, which reacted and squeezed the doctor’s finger. As if testing for strength, the doctor shook the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. I took the picture!  Wow!  It happened so fast that the nurse standing next to me asked, “What happened?”

“The child reached out,” I said.

“Oh. They do that all the time,” she responded.

-Michael Clancy(photographer)


The photo was then published in USA Today, and entitled…..”Hand of Hope”.


Controversy was not far behind.

The doctor who performed the surgery later gave this statement:

The baby did not reach out,” Dr Bruner said. “The baby was anesthetized. The baby was not aware of what was going on.”.He also stated, “Depending on your political point of view, this is either Samuel Armas reaching out of the uterus and touching the finger of a fellow human, or it’s me pulling his hand out of the uterus … which is what I did.”


And there the controversy rages even today.  Was this a baby reaching out or a doctor reaching in….


Apparently, it matters.



(that was me being sarcastic, by the way)


P.S.  I’d like to mention that there are different degrees of spina bifida.    Sadly, many times it is extremely severe and CANNOT be fixed.

P.S.S…..Here is Samuel today:

There is a great article about him by Fox News HERE….





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