A teen from Owensboro, Kentucky, who was born with a rare genetic disorder never expected to see his senior year at high school, and neither did his doctors think he would survive. However, he has beaten the odds and is now crediting a hospice nurse and God for his miraculous survival.
“I was supposed to be dead, not alive, not breathing,” Braden West, 18, told News Nation Now, “and then God brought life back into my life.”
Braden was born with a rare cranio-facial condition called Pfeiffer syndrome Type 2, which is characterized by malformations of the skull and an underdeveloped brain. He was not expected to live beyond 18 months.
Braden’s mother, Cheri West, received her baby’s diagnosis two weeks before he was born. “I mean, he’s kicking in my belly and I’m praying for God to take him home,” she shared. “That’s not me. I am not for that at all.”
However, when Braden was born, Cheri’s maternal bond with her baby immediately took over. “I was laying on the hospital bed and right before they were fixing to cut that umbilical cord, I was not ready to let him go,” she explained. “I said, ‘Dear God, please, just let me have him for a little while.’”
Luckily, Braden survived, but not long after, his health fell into steady decline, and at just a few months of age, he entered hospice care. That’s where he met registered nurse Michele Eddings Linn.
In a Sept. 6 Facebook post shared by over 5,600 people, Michele recalled being awestruck by the West family’s positivity. “I was greeted at the door by the sweetest young mom with the most beautiful smile,” she wrote. “She was so unexpectedly joyful and proceeded to say, ‘I can’t wait for you meet him, he’s so awesome, you’re going to love him,’ and boy was she was right!”
Over the months that followed, Braden suffered many “ups and downs.”
On one particular night when Braden almost lost his life, Michele was by his side. The nurse explained that there are “no heroic measures” to be performed in hospice care, according to News Nation Now, but she sat with the baby boy as he endured treatments throughout the night, regardless. She also continued to do chest physical therapy and postural drainage for hours through the night.
“I just remember, you know, praying, ‘Lord just either take him home or make him better,’” Michele recalled. “Because no one could watch him continue to go through this.”
With medicine, Michele, and prayer rooting for him, Braden survived. He became the first patient that Michele was able to discharge from hospice care.
“We don’t always lose them all,” Michele reflected. Eighteen years on, the nurse and her patient remain close.
Speaking to The Epoch Times, Braden, who has had 30 surgeries since birth, described Michele as “like an angel,” adding, “There’s not enough money in this world to ever repay her.”
But Braden and his parents found one way to show their appreciation. Over the years, reports 9 News, Michele has attended Braden’s birthday parties and has always taken photos; the family asked Michele if she would take the teen’s senior pictures too.
Moved, she said yes.
“[Seventeen] years ago I cried because I thought his time on earth was ending,” Michele wrote on Facebook, “and now I’m crying because he is graduating high school and his life is just beginning!”
Braden told The Epoch Times that graduating from Apollo High School, he feels good. “It hasn’t always been easy going to school, being around other people being different, but I have been blessed with good schools and school nurses,” he said.
Braden is a successful student and has also managed to thrive outside the classroom with passions for fishing, flying planes, and even weightlifting in the Special Olympics. His ambition is to qualify as a pilot or join the National Guard, but above all else, Braden is a beacon of positivity.
“If God brings you to it, He will see you through it,” Braden shared. “Always remember to push yourself and never give up!”
Cheri hopes that she and her son can use their platform to bring hope to others. “I prayed if God would just let me have him for a little while I would share his testimony with the world,” she said, “and yet here we are!”
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