Tim Guido’s biological parents chose to abort him when they found out he had Down syndrome, but God had a different plan …
Tim Guido’s story made a huge impact in Germany in 1997 when he was born. He’s known as the Oldenburg Baby, based on the name of the hospital where he was born. Being born wasn’t something Tim was supposed to do—and once he was born, he was not expected to live. Nevertheless, he lived for 21 years, dying earlier this month.
A failed abortion
When his biological parents discovered that their unborn child had Down syndrome, they decide to have a late-term abortion in the 25th week of pregnancy. German law generally only allows the termination of a pregnancy until the 13th week, but does allow late-term abortions in cases where it is considered that the mother has physical health problems or psychological difficulties that make her unable to carry the pregnancy to term.
This loophole leaves ample wiggle room, such that 9 out of 10 fetuses with Down syndrome are aborted.
The justification offered is the psychological difficulty the parents experience. But why cut off the life of the child? What if the parents were supported and guided in accepting the news of this condition, which can be complicated, but doesn’t, in fact, guarantee a tragic future?
In any case, the couple proceeded with the abortion, and only God knows why Tim was born alive, against all odds. One factor is surely that the doctor chose not to inject potassium chloride, often used to kill the unborn child in the womb; it was thought that Tim wouldn’t survive induced labor, because he was so premature. Nonetheless, he did survive, to everyone’s surprise.
His heart beat, he moved, and he cried; and yet, no one on the medical team offered him any care at the beginning, because they firmly believed that his death was imminent. Eventually (nine hours later) one of the nurses started to provide him with medical attention, since the newborn obstinately insisted on breathing.
The absence of care in Tim’s first hours of life caused damage to his brain, eyes, and lungs; later on, he would also develop autism, which complicated his already difficult condition of Down syndrome.
It would seem difficult to consider this discarded and wounded child as a gift, but his adoptive parents Bernhard and Simone Guido saw it differently. He was certainly not what they were expecting; they had signed up to adopt a healthy girl, says Simone Guido in her book about her life with Tim. But when she and her husband saw him in the hospital in 1997, it was like love at first sight. “We immediately thought: he belongs with us,” Mrs. Guido said in The Irish Times. When they took him home, he weighed just about 1.5 lb and was just over a foot long.
The Guido family later adopted two more children with Down syndrome, and gave all their children abundant affection, receiving even greater joy in return. Bernhard and Simone ensured that Tim got all the therapy and medical treatments he needed, which were many, due to the conditions of his birth.
Tim’s motor and communicative development took great leaps thanks to dolphin therapy, which he experienced for two weeks in 2003, and after that, he began to attend a specialized school.
The end of a difficult but beautiful life
Tim spent his last Christmas happily with his parents, before a lung infection unexpectedly led to his death. Perhaps he would have lived longer had he been given medical attention immediately after his birth, but it’s more important to note that he lived 21 years full of life, love, challenges, and joy, which he both gave and received in abundance.
“We are very sad and don’t yet know how we should come to terms with the loss of our son who was unique, full of life, and spread joy,” his parents said in a statement on their website.
There’s a YouTube video portraying Tim’s daily life. It’s in German, but the looks on the faces there don’t lie. And they say something very important: God works wonders. It’s our task to accept those wonders, even when they come in ways that we don’t understand.
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