When Braden West was born, doctors told his parents that he would not survive.
The little boy had all odds against him – but his life-threatening condition would lead to one miracle after another.
Today, Braden is 22 and celebrates his life by becoming a firefighter.
Braden West was born with the rare craniofacial condition, Pfeiffer syndrome Type 2, which causes malformations of the skull and an underdeveloped brain. His mom Cheri understood something was wrong and was told about her son’s condition 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.”
But when Braden was born, Cheri immediately bonded with her special boy.
Sadly, Cheri also felt that there wasn’t much she could do to save her baby boy. Many of the children with Braden’s condition will not live past birth. In Braden’s case, he wasn’t expected to live beyond 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.”
But since his birth, Braden has been defying all the odds. With the support of his loving family, the little boy started to show signs of progression.
“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.”
As well as the support of his loving family he also formed a special bond with registered nurse Michele Eddings Linn.
When Braden was a baby his health fell into decline and his future looked 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 was praying for us,” Cheri said.
Michele was by his side the night Braden almost lost his life. “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.”
Linn said when baby Braden pulled through that night he was her first patient who ever got to leave hospice care. Now the two are so close that Braden even asked Michele, who he refers to as his “angel,” to take his senior photos.
“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 in 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 celebrate such an amazing milestone in Braden’s life his parents organized for him to be flown into the middle of a live concert that featured one of his favorite musicians, country singer Cam Thomspon, via helicopter.
Braden described his graduation day as “perfect”.
“I feel pretty good knowing I worked so hard to get to this day because it wasn’t always easy,” he added.
Braden, who walked with a walker until he was five years old and learned to walk on his own with lots of therapy, is now a member of the civil air patrol unit in Owensboro, Kentucky.
He always dreamed big and now, he’s living out his lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter, joining the Moseleyville Fire dept as a volunteer fireman.
His mom Cheri says her son’s achievements serve as a special reminder to those with all the odds stacked against them.
“Don’t ever give up … No matter how hard the mountain is to climb, keep climbing because the view at the top is amazing!”
Thanks to Braden’s faith and determination he’s not only survived but thrived with his amazing grades.
Help us congratulate this inspirational young man and wish him a future of health and happiness by sharing this story.