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An Update on Samuel Armas "The Hand of Hope"
National Right to Life News ^ | 10-31-03 | Jonathan Imbody

Posted on 10/31/2003 6:53:55 PM PST by

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What a cute little guy (but then I’m a sucker for little boys anyway). May God bless his family!

61 posted on 04/07/2007 3:39:55 AM PDT by TenthAmendmentChampion (Pray for our President and for our heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and around the world!)
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Bruner was one of my DS’s team of doctors at Vandy in the NICU. I’m quite frankly surprised at his stance. Absolutely no one else we encountered there in 1999 was that way. There was an absolute reverence for the sanctity of life.

That said, our son received the absolute best of care there. He was 2 lbs, 3 ozs - lost down to a pound and a half, but thrived under Vandy’s care.

62 posted on 04/13/2007 5:46:29 PM PDT by kimmie7 (Liberals embrace the sin......Christians embrace the sinner.)
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I may have asked this question before but does anyone have a link to the essay about the people the left would argue should have been aborted given the circumstances surrounding their births — Mozart was one example. (?) Thanks.

63 posted on 05/15/2007 9:01:25 PM PDT by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch (If MY people who are called by MY name -- the ball's in our court, folks.)
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch;

Not Mozart — Beethoven — can’t keep my composers straight.

64 posted on 05/15/2007 9:04:56 PM PDT by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch (If MY people who are called by MY name -- the ball's in our court, folks.)
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch

I googled “would you abort Beethoven” and got several the first is this:

Would You Consider Abortion in These Four Situations?

Issue Date: January/February 1999

1. There is a preacher and wife who are very, very poor. They already have 14 kids. Now she finds out she is pregnant with her 15th. They are living in tremendous poverty. Considering their poverty and the excessive world population, would you consider recommending abortion?

2. The father is sick with sniffles, the mother has TB. They have 4 children. The first is blind, the second is dead. The third is deaf and the fourth has TB. The mother finds she is pregnant again. Given the extreme situation, would you recommend abortion?

3. A man raped a 13 year old black girl and she got pregnant. If you were her parents, would you consider recommending abortion?

4. A teenage girl is pregnant. She is not married. Her fiancee is not the father of the baby, and he is very upset. Would you recommend an abortion?

If you have answered “yes” to any of these situations:

In the first case you would have killed John Wesley, one of the great evangelists of the 19th century.

In the second case, you would have killed Beethoven.

In the third case you would have killed Ethel Waters, the great black gospel singer.

In the fourth case you would have recommended the murder of Jesus Christ.

With U. S. abortion deaths topping 30 million, only God knows what we have sacrificed in lost human talent and creativity.

65 posted on 05/22/2007 7:41:12 AM PDT by (A Catholic Respect Life Curriculum is available at
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To: OMalley

“What a wonderful story and a beautiful child:)”

This is a great story and the picture of him grabbing the surgeons hand is so moving! How dare anyone say that this is an unviable tissue mass.

I am only four years late posting to you! You haven’t aged a bit!!:)

66 posted on 05/22/2007 8:01:27 AM PDT by upsdriver (DUNCAN HUNTER FOR PRESIDENT!!!!)
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To: kimmie7
As a nurse, now retired, I have worked with many different doctors. Many are good, kind, and clearly called by God. Others are arrogant, full of themselves, and may have been reared that way, pressured into the field, or are just jerks. Then, there are those who were called, and then gave into temptation, disappointing God. Clearly, many of us have not always acted the way we would have wanted to, looking back. What many people,"civilians", don't realize is that what Drs. say about patients, behind patients' backs are sometimes not what Drs. say to patients in the room. There are also numerous doctors that have excellent skills, yet a horrible bedside manner. Unfortunately, sometimes, it seems that when one needs a highly specialized Dr, it can be difficult to find someone with both skills. I have always said, if you want the best outcome, ask a nurse. If you want someone with a great bedside manner, ask a nurse. If you want someone with a good outcome and a great bedside manners, ask a nurse....but understand there may be 3 different answers to those questions! And, let us not forget hospital politics. What if, in this case (and I have no idea - I am just playing a "devil's advocate"), Dr. Bruner depended on financial support of his “new” surgery? What if he worried that upsetting the political applecart would affect this money? Which decision does he make? Is it best to have financial support so that these surgeries continue (because no insurance pays for ANYTHING experiemental) so that more children are helped and, eventually, it is no longer considered, “experiemental” thereby making it available to everyone (within parameters)? Or, does he upset the applecart who or that pays his salary, finances his desire to help others, and so he says was he is told to say?

I guess, what I am hoping to bring to one's mind, is that we never know the whole story, the whole person, and we can't possibly know what we would do, given an opportunity to be in the other person's shoes, with that person's experiences and knowledge.

It is so horrible to lie - and obviously, given Dr. Bruner’s statements, and Michael Clancy's, it does appear that he did. BUT, I KNOW MOST of us have lied, given an opportunity to: not hurt another person, further a "good" cause, or it seemed the best decision at that time. If Dr. Bruner agreed that the child reached out, he has to tell moms that their child will not be paralyzed during the procedure and may feel pain. He'd have to admit that anesthesia in such unique cases is also still experimental and not foolproof. Would this be something a parent would want to hear? He'd have to be open to questions about the other surgery, the one with the older baby being posed vs this one, and there begins a web of possibilities as to why someone would choose not to tell the truth. I am not saying it is the right thing. Afterall, I doubt the doctor would have realized that a photojournalist's career would be so devastatingly be affected....OR, he may have thought that one person's career may not be worth the loss of so many babies’ health....? Like I mentioned, I don't know any more about this case than what I have read on this site. But, I DO remember seeing the original picture when it was first published...and I felt blessed that God would allow it to be captured for EVERYONE to see...and realize that, yes, a baby is a baby - not just what Planned Parenthood or the abortionists say it is.

I worked in high risk labor and delivery for almost a decade, across from Dr. Tiller's clinic. Please understand, and do not believe for one minute, that just because abortion is legal (supposedly a pro-choicer's reason to contnue the insanity), that there are no infections, complications, loss of uteruses, or death. Do not believe for one minute that these girls/women are educated to what is REALLY happening with their babies. There are laws every doctor must follow when a baby is born alive (no matter what the gestational-how many weeks a woman is pregnant - age), whether a baby is stillborn or aborted beyond a certain gestational age, or if it weighs beyond a certain amount... and these laws do not impress him. He has an incinerator on site. I am only privy to what his patients have told us, but I don't know why a woman would lie about having been further along than she was or lie about what was told to her. Sometimes the only time a woman realizes the truth is when she carries a wanted baby beyond a certain point or it weighs beyond a certain amount, and she miscarries - and is shocked to discover the baby has to have a funeral, receives a death certificate, etc. and questions why, when she knows she didn't have to with her abortion - and that baby weighed more than this one, or she was further along than she was with this one... .

As someone caring for these women, and being very much a “prolife” advocate, I would like to take an opportunity to caution other “pro-lifers”, who I know mean well, but, can at times, come across judgmental to the women who aborted a child. I think there was only one woman I have cared for, who didn't express regret and shame. And, just because the one whose history I obtained, did not offer a remark, doesn't mean she didn't feel it either. I believe we need to talk more about trying to save women from the guilt, shame, and judgment they will feel - not from others, but, instinctively, from themselves, and the Holy Spirit. They will also regret it if they miscarry a wanted baby, have a stillborn, if a child of theirs in the future dies, if anything bad ever happens to them again - they DO perceive it as God's judgment. They also believe it when, because of the unstoppable bleeding, and/or DIC (a serious complication) occurs, resulting in the uterus having to be taken, meaning they will never carry a child they want. I believe it is a mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy act for the woman - not to mention what it does to the child, when a woman aborts a baby. If men really loved their wives, girlfriends, sisters, and mothers, they would never ask them to do go through an abortion. I think it is important to balance what we say to women who have made such a horrible choice, with God's forgiveness. And, for them to understand it is because we care not just for the unborn children, but also for THEM, that we try to educate them about their potential decision. I believe every person has the right for a fully disclosed, complete knowledge of the pros and cons in going through a procedure. And, whether it is an abortion or an elective surgery, one should know exactly what to expect and what alternatives there are. Far too many doctors leave that education to someone else and /or do not disclose everything. EVERY person has the right and SHOULD ALWAYS ask, “What are the pro's, the con's, and the alternatives to this procedure? I didn't mean to make this so lengthy, and I don't mean to say Dr. Bruner doesn't do fine work (he obviously has helped numerous families and children). I'm just saying that he, as well as all other doctors, are human. As humans, we sin. And, just because we have an experience with someone, I don't know that it is fair to think we know everything about their character. I know I have done things I thought I would never do - but felt I had to so I could protect my children...but when someone lies, they are always protecting themselves or someone else and possibly, a cause greater than themselves. It may not be right, but it is human. And, I hope, if this doctor is a Christian, he will ask forgiveness from God, Michael, and the public...and we would forgive him as we have been forgiven. No matter whether he did or didn't do or say, it might not (and probably doesn't) have any impact on his exceptional surgical skills and clinical expertise, and whether he is able to help others. Many patients don't and will never even know about what happened behind the scenes. Those that do, could always ask him, could always choose not to, or could decide that, for them, it doesn't matter and they'd use him anyway, or some may choose trust above all else...and unless they "feel" that from him, decide against using him. But, no matter what the real circumstances of that day the picture was taken, the doctor and Michael made it possible for all of us to be a witness to the miracle of life and God's blessing on a family who did as He asked. For this, I am grateful and also, blessed.

67 posted on 11/29/2008 2:07:53 PM PST by ChristianRN (Retired RN's thoughts on the doctor, hospital politics, abortion, decisions, God and us)
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Samuel and Zachary, victims of spina bifida, answers to prayer


Armas Family

Samuel Armas holds baby brother Zachary last summer. Both struggle with spina bifida, but have made gains in health since doctors’ early prognosis.

DOUGLASVILLE — Some folks have bedrock convictions that are unalterable and unshakeable. Alex and Julie Armas, members of Ephesus Baptist Church, are just those kinds of people, the kind that the Apostle Paul would call “steadfast and unmovable.”

Hilys Jasper once said, “It is not what happens to you, but the way you take it that counts.” This Georgia Baptist couple has had some formidable challenges hurled at them, but in spite of the heartache and pain, they have taken the challenges with faith and grace.

In an article that appeared in The Christian Index Oct. 23, 2003, the Armas couple was hailed for their decision to proceed with a pregnancy when the child Julie was carrying had been diagnosed with spina bifida. The doctors indicated that fetal surgery did not seem to be a viable option and that such surgery would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Julie remembers that he stopped just short of suggesting abortion.

Nevertheless, Julie and little Samuel underwent in utero surgery at Vanderbilt University Hospital on Aug. 19, 1999. She was 21 weeks pregnant. Samuel weighed less than one pound.

Free-lance photographer Michael Clancy was in the operating room to take pictures for USA Today and took the photo of Samuel’s hand as he grasped the finger of the surgeon. After taking that much-publicized photo, Clancy, who had been a pro-choice advocate, has become a champion of pro-life causes.


Nationwide impact

Samuel was born by C-section 15 weeks after the surgery and although he has had multiple surgeries since, he has avoided many of the more serious problems of spina bifida. Billy Godwin, the Ephesus pastor, reports, “Samuel is bright, extremely active and very gregarious.”

During the United States Senate debate on partial birth abortion, Alex and Julie were invited to Washington to testify before Kansas Senator Sam Brownbeck’s subcommittee; and once the bill was passed President George W. Bush invited them to attend the actual signing ceremony at the White House.

In November of 2003 the Armas’ were blessed with a second son, Ethan, who is as healthy and happy as you might ever want a child to be. Then in late 2004 the Armas’ found that they were expecting a third child. It was somewhat of a surprise, but they were excited about the prospect of another child to love and welcome into the family.

In February of 2005 Julie had an ultrasound which seemed to indicate that this child also had spina bifida. An emergency visit to Vanderbilt to see the doctor who performed Samuel’s surgery confirmed the diagnosis. The news was devastating, but once again Alex and Julie began to draw from the peace and strength of the Lord as they faced the reality of having another spina bifida child.

Armas Family

Julie and Alex Armas pose with sons Ethan and Samuel last fall. The Armas’ third son, Zachary, was born in February of 2005.

The Douglasville couple decided on Zachary as the name for the child Julie was carrying in her womb. The physicians determined that Zachary’s lesion level was at L4, the 4th lumbar vertebrae, which was very similar to the lesion level at the time of Samuel’s in utero surgery five years earlier.

Since Alex and Julie had experienced positive results with Samuel’s pre-natal surgery they hoped that the same kind of surgery would be available to Zachary, but discovered that the National Institute of Health is conducting a clinical trial (MOMS: Management of Myelomeningocele Study) on fetal surgery; and that they control all fetal surgeries and none can be performed outside of the study.

Alex stated, “To ensure a fair and unbiased population and process is used, the study randomizes eligible candidates into either an experimental group (pre-natal) or a control group (post-natal). For the pre-natal random selection, fetal surgery is performed at one of three designated hospitals. For the post-natal random selections, surgery is performed immediately after birth by the same doctors and at the same hospital.”


Fight for surgical candidacy

“Initially,” Alex continued, “the NIH denied us entry into the study due to the fact that we had a prior fetal surgery. We felt the choice was taken away from us and we fought to have the chance for the same surgery that Samuel had prior to the clinical trial. After six weeks of letters and phone calls to multiple congressmen and senators in Washington, the NIH reviewed our case and decided on medical grounds to allow us entry into the study.”

Alex explained, “We enrolled as eligible candidates. However, we were ultimately randomized to the post-natal group, which means we could not have fetal surgery. Instead, we traveled back to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in July 2005 to have the same team deliver Zachary and perform the necessary surgeries soon after.

“Since we are enrolled in the study,” Alex observed, “Zachary will be followed closely by the Vanderbilt team for a couple of years. Once the study is completed, the findings will be published in medical journals for objective review and consideration of the risks versus the benefits.”

“This will likely determine the future of fetal surgery for spina bifida.”

Armas Family

Left to right, Ethan, Samuel and Zachary Armas take time out earlier this month on a Disney cruise for a photo. The brothers attend Ephesus Baptist Church in Douglasville with their parents, Alex and Julie.

Zachary had surgery to close his back 24 hours after he was born. He had subsequent surgery to insert a shunt eight days after birth. One week after returning from Vanderbilt, Zachary showed signs of hydrocephalus and had to undergo a shunt revision at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. His health condition has been uneventful since that time.


Only one option

The future of Zachary’s health is unknown, but comparative lesion levels and early upper leg function would indicate that he should be able to walk short distances with leg bracing. The added use of crutches, walkers or intermittent wheelchair use is unknown, but likely.

While some parents may chose to abort a spina bifida child, abortion was never an option for the Armas’. Alex affirms, “Our convictions are grounded in beliefs established through our upbringing and through what the Bible clearly says is wrong or right. Abortion is wrong. Life in the womb is God-created, even if with birth defects. God doesn’t make mistakes, whether creating a child with spina bifida, down syndrome or even more severe issues. It is still a life that has just as much a right to live as any ‘normal’ unborn child.”

Alex concluded, “Children are a true blessing from the Lord and have been an answer to prayer for us.”

The Armas couple contend that what was said about the blind man in John 9 is true of their situation – that Samuel and Zachary were given to them that “the works of God should be manifest in (them).”

68 posted on 12/18/2008 9:50:20 PM PST by (A Catholic Respect Life Curriculum is available FREE at
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Link for post 68:
69 posted on 12/18/2008 9:52:23 PM PST by (A Catholic Respect Life Curriculum is available FREE at
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April 11, 2007
House V: Photo of “Baby” Samuel and his photographer
Michael Clancy, the photographer who snapped the photo in 1999 of Baby Samuel Armas reaching out of his mother's uterus to hold the finger of his surgeon, attended a pregnancy care center banquet last month, where he and Samuel's mother Julie spoke.

Wrote Michael in an email to me, “It was a God moment when at the end of her presentation, Samuel, at seven years old, climbed the stairs and took his place beside her at the podium. A standing ovation ensued and it was one of several times that night I more than teared up, I cried.”

Here is a photo of Samuel and Michael, taken in March 2007.

See previous House blog posts here, here, here, and here.

70 posted on 12/18/2008 9:57:03 PM PST by (A Catholic Respect Life Curriculum is available FREE at
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"THE HAND OF HOPE". Surgery on 21-week-old Samuel." Samuel's thoughts on his photo: "They fixed my boo-boo."

BELOW: Samuel at home in Crib

BELOW: Samuel at play (from a summer 2003 Newsweek article)

71 posted on 12/18/2008 10:07:13 PM PST by (A Catholic Respect Life Curriculum is available FREE at
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To: Jim Robinson; Coleus; nickcarraway; narses; Mr. Silverback; Canticle_of_Deborah; ...
I wanted to find something positive in Pro-Life to post for this Christmas season. I found some heartwarming updates on Samual Armas, The Hand of Hope, starting w post # 68.

God bless Free Republic and God Bless America.

Pro-Life PING

Please FreepMail me if you want on or off my Pro-Life Ping List.

Today's News & Views
May 22, 2008

Photo of Unborn Baby's Hand Continues to
Change Hearts and Lives
-- Part Two of Two

By Liz Townsend

One moment can change your life. That's what Michael Clancy has discovered in the eight and a half years since he snapped the groundbreaking photo of an unborn baby clutching his doctor's hand during fetal surgery.

Clancy is now a fervent pro-lifer, spreading the message that unborn babies are precious human beings and deserve protection. He will be a featured speaker at the upcoming NRL Convention in Washington, D.C., July 3–5.

"It was the earliest human interaction ever recorded," Clancy told NRL News. "It proved that the child at 21 weeks in utero is a reactive human being."

Unborn baby Samuel Armas reaches out to his doctor during fetal surgery in August 1999.  Michael Clancy, the photo-grapher who snapped the amazing image, will share his
first-hand witness to the humanity of the unborn at the
NRL Convention in July.

When he took the photo in August 1999, Clancy was a freelance photographer filming the fetal surgery procedure for USA Today. Unborn baby Samuel Armas had been diagnosed with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, which occur when the spinal column fails to fuse properly, leaving a lesion (or opening) that is highly susceptible to infection. Dr. Joseph Bruner and his team at Vanderbilt University were operating to close the lesion.

After the incision was made in mother Julie Armas's abdomen, her uterus was removed and laid on her thighs. An opening was made in the uterus, and the surgeons were supposed to operate on Samuel without any part of his body emerging from inside.

However, as Clancy eloquently describes on his web site,, "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."

The amazing photograph of Samuel reaching out to his doctor appeared in USA Today and The Tennessean September 7, 1999. Although Clancy never sought notoriety, his work immediately caught the attention of the media and of people around the world.

Clancy was shocked, however, when fetal surgeon Joseph Bruner told USA Today in May 2000 that the photo did not show purposeful movement by Samuel. Bruner claimed that he saw the hand near the incision and he "reached over and picked it up. … The baby did not reach out. The baby was anesthetized. The baby was not aware of what was going on."

But Clancy posted on his web site the series of frames that depict the moment of contact between Samuel and Dr. Bruner, and they show that Samuel is moving his own hand, grasping the doctor.

"The doctor questioned my credibility," Clancy told NRL News. "But Samuel punched out, and even damaged the surgical opening. That 21-week-old child reacted to the touch of his surgeon."

Clancy went on to testify at a congressional hearing in 2003 along with then-three-year-old Samuel, who was born 15 weeks after his surgery. During the hearing, as reported in National Review, Sen. Sam Brownback pointed to a large copy of Clancy's photo and asked Samuel who it was. "Baby Samuel," he answered. Brownback then asked what was happening. "They fixed my boo-boo," said Samuel.

Although he considers himself "shy," Clancy agreed to speak at the annual banquet of a local crisis pregnancy center about two and a half years ago. After he spoke, "they gave me the first standing ovation I ever had," Clancy recalled. "Afterwards, 20 to 30 people were lined up to speak with me, and told me I need to continue telling my story."

Clancy listened to their advice, and is now telling people about his first-hand witness to the humanity of the unborn. He also encourages people to download the photo from his web site and distribute it far and wide.

"It changes one heart at a time, that's what this picture does," he said. "This is God's work. This is the youngest interaction with a child inside the womb ever recorded. As long as it keeps being put where people can see it, it can save lives."

Part One

72 posted on 12/19/2008 3:10:52 PM PST by (A Catholic Respect Life Curriculum is available FREE at
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BTTT — I think I have a link to this on my profile page.

73 posted on 12/19/2008 8:22:28 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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IIRC, isn't it this photo, or one like it, that got Drudge fired from his Fox television program (for showing the photo on the air after being told not to)?

If it is a "choice", why are so many people afraid of showing the LIFE side?

Most all of your tax dollars are spent promoting the DEATH side..............very few tax dollars to the LIFE side..........and they call it a "choice"...........

74 posted on 02/20/2009 12:00:19 PM PST by AwesomePossum ("To see the right and not do it is want of courage." Confucius)
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Ten Years Later, Boy’s ‘Hand of Hope’ Continues to Spark Debate [Samuel Armas update] May 06, 2009

75 posted on 05/06/2009 9:24:24 PM PDT by (A Catholic Respect Life Curriculum is available FREE at
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