Little Pearl Joy Brown turned 1 on Saturday and celebrated with balloons, a taste of birthday cupcake on her pacifier, and the smiles of hundreds of friends and family at a Nashville park.
The party was another unexpected blessing for Pearl and her parents, Eric and Ruth Brown of East Nashville.
Pearl was diagnosed in the womb with rare disorder called alobar holoprosencephaly, or HPE, which is almost always fatal. Pearl was not expected to survive birth, and if she did, her life would likely be short.
Doctors suggested that the best choice would have been to end the pregnancy. But the Browns, people of deep faith, believe that God made Pearl just as she is.
Every Friday for the past year, they lit a candle and sang happy birthday to her, not knowing how long she would live.
When she hit a year old, the Brown decided to celebrate with a pot luck and cupcakes at Fannie May Dees Park
“We had a grand old party in the park,” said Eric Brown.
Earlier this year, the Browns learned that Pearl may actually have semi-lobar HPE, a less severe condition, which has a longer life expectancy.
Still life is hard. Pearl has a weak immune system and had had to fight over several bouts of pneumonia. But she still keeps fighting.