During lecture today in Anatomy class, the teacher told us a horrible story from when his mother used to work as a nurse in the part of the hospital where babies were born.

We were discussing the brain and the nervous system in general, and somehow this led to Phineas Gage and other such related topics. Then one student, by the name of Ryan, wanted to know why it was possible to live with only half a brain (either the results of a birth defect or a hemispherectomy). Mr. Myers explained that it was possible to live with nothing more than a medulla oblongata if one were supplied with nutrients and hydrated regularly. Not much of a life, if a life at all, but possible.

He went on to explain about how his mother had been a nurse while she was pregnant with him back in the 60s. She was working in the birthing section of the hospital, as said earlier. She was helping a doctor deliver a baby one day – nothing unusual. The baby came out face-up, which isn’t too common, but no big deal. He looked like a normal, healthy baby boy. Then the doctor turned him over.

The back of its head was missing.

The baby had a brain, but only the most primitive parts were developed. The rest (cerebral cortex, frontal lobe, etc.) just weren’t there. The back of the baby’s head had formed to fit the small portion of brain it had, which was just a partial brain stem and a cerebellum. There was no skull to protect it. The baby was breathing on its own, and could have lived if hooked up to machines to nourish it. Not for long, but it would have lived.

The doctor made a fist, and crushed the tiny brain easily, killing the baby instantly.

He told the mother of the child that she had had a stillbirth from numerous complications during pregnancy and delivery.

If that’s not playing god, I don’t know what is.