When a child is born the parents hope for the best and fear the worst. Their faith becomes tested when the fear becomes a reality and they are faced with the devastation of an unhealthy child. In an instant, they are forced to make life changing decisions.
When Claudio Vieira de Oliveira was born there was little hope that he would live a normal life. His deformities were so severe the doctors even encouraged his mother to let him starve, thinking that would put him out of his misery.
Claudio, now a 37 year old man, is grateful his mother followed her heart and not the advice of doctors. While he will always have limitations, he has been able to lead a happy and productive life.
Claudio was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital birth defect that bends and restricts movement to joints in the legs, arms, fingers and toes. Claudio’s arms and legs hang twisted behind him, essentially useless. His condition also affected his head by bending it back so far it appears to be upside-down.
With the love and support of his family, Claudio did not wallow in self-pity. When he was younger he figured out that he did not need his misshapen feet to walk, rather he used his knees. Likewise, his mouth became his hands, allowing him to hold a pen between his lips to dial his cell phone.
Claudio has been able to find joy in his life, not by hiding away from the public but by embracing his uniqueness and sharing his story. People are able to understand that while, at first glance, Claudio’s condition may spark fear or sadness, in the end they are able to see past the defect to find a charming human being.
Today, Claudio works as an accountant and continues to share his inspiring story of perseverance. He is a published writer and a public speaker.