Doctors informed Braden West’s parents he wouldn’t make it through birth.
The odds were stacked against the young kid, but his critical illness would lead to a series of miraculous recoveries.
Braden is celebrating his 22nd birthday by joining the fire department.
Braden West was born with Pfeiffer syndrome Type 2, a rare craniofacial disorder that involves abnormalities of the skull and an underdeveloped brain. Cheri, his mother, knew something wasn’t right even before he was born, and she learned the details of his ailment two weeks before he was born.
“I mean, he’s kicking in my belly and I’m praying for God to take him home,” Cheri told News Nation Now in 2020, adding:
“It looked like he was not going to have the back of his head. It looked like he was going to be born with teeth. It looked like it was a bad situation.”
In contrast, Cheri felt an instant connection to her newborn son Braden.
Cheri shared the physician’s assessment that there wasn’t much she could do to save her son. Babies born with Braden’s disease have a very low chance of survival. Braden’s prognosis didn’t anticipate him surviving more than 18 months.
“I said dear God please, just let me have him for a little while,” said Cheri.
“There’s a picture of him when he was born and it shows his skull very well, a distinct clover shape,” Cheri told The Owensboro Times, adding:
“At a month old they let us bring him home. He was not thriving, they knew he was not going to make it. We brought him home to meet everyone so he wouldn’t die in a hospital.”
The odds have always been against Braden, yet he has continued to defy them ever since he was born. The tiny boy made progress with the help of his caring family.
“He had over 30 surgeries, got a tracheotomy at just 3 months old, and once had a procedure done with a 10% survival rate,” Cheri said. “We had to sign the DNR papers, say our goodbyes and everything. Instead of bad news, the doctors came out and said he was okay.”
He had the love and encouragement of his family, but he also connected deeply with his nurse, Michele Eddings Linn.
Braden’s health began to fail when he was a baby, and his future was uncertain.
“Anything a mother doesn’t want to hear is what they told us. It’s amazing with faith in God what you can get through. Anyone who knew us or knew of us were praying for us,” Cheri said.
The night Braden nearly lost his life, Michele was there for him. “I just remember, you know, praying, ‘Lord just either take him home or make him better,’” she said. “Because no one could watch him continue to go through this.”
When baby Braden made a miraculous recovery that night, Linn said he was her first patient to be discharged from the hospice. Braden and Michele are now so close that Braden asked his “angel,” Michele, to photograph his senior pictures.
“17 years ago I cried because I thought his time on Earth was ending, and now I’m crying because he is graduating [from] high school and his life is just beginning!,” Linn wrote on a Facebook post.
“To watch him become this amazing young man has been emotional, but yet I’m so proud,” mom Cheri told The Epoch Times.
“When I was watching him walk the line, every emotion of the first few months of his life came flooding back. All I could think about was, he isn’t supposed to be doing this, he wasn’t supposed to even be able to hold a pencil, speak, see, hear … and here we are.”
To mark this special occasion, Braden’s parents had him dropped off via helicopter at a live concert of country artist Cam Thomspon, one of Braden’s all-time favorite performers.
As Braden put it, “perfect” best describes his graduation day.
“I feel pretty good knowing I worked so hard to get to this day because it wasn’t always easy,” he added.
Braden, who used a walker until he was five, is now a member of the civil air patrol unit in Owensboro, Kentucky thanks to extensive physical rehabilitation.
He joined the Moseleyville Fire Department as a volunteer because he had always wanted to be a fireman and he was finally able to make that dream come true.
Cheri, his mom, said she hopes her son’s accomplishments would encourage people who are fighting an uphill battle.
“Don’t ever give up … No matter how hard the mountain is to climb, keep climbing because the view at the top is amazing!”
Because of his strong belief in God and his unwavering commitment to his studies, Braden has not only made it through but excelled.
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