OWENSBORO, Ken. (NewsNation Now) — An 18-year-old high school student had the chance to thank the nurse who helped him survive a perilous birth by inviting her to his senior year photo shoot.
Doctors said Braden West would live only for a few months, but he’s made it all the way to his senior year at Apollo High School.
For Braden, shooting his senior high school photos is more than capturing memories, it’s a day he never expected to see.
“Just knowing 18 years ago, I was supposed to be dead, not alive — not breathing and then God brought life back into my life,” said Braden.
He said thanks to a registered nurse named Michele Linn, he is alive.
“I was having trouble breathing. I struggled all my life learning how to breathe,” explained Braden. “(She) tried to help me revive life and God answered her prayers and here I am.”
Braden was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome Type 2. Health professionals said his life expectancy was around 18 months maximum. His mother found out about his condition two weeks before she delivered him.
“I mean he’s kicking in my belly and I’m praying for God to take him home. That’s not me. I am not for that at all,” said Cheri West. “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.”
Moments after she gave birth, she had a change of heart.
“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 expressed.
She hoped that Braden would survive.
“I said dear God please, just let me have him for a little while,” said Cheri.
He survived birth. But at only a few months old, his health struggles continued and he entered into hospice care. Doctors believed he only had a few months to live.
One night, his breathing became so bad, medical professionals thought he wouldn’t live another day. That night, registered nurse Michele Linn came in for crisis care.
“We already had as many treatments as we could do, as much oxygen as we could give. He was in hospice care so there’s not any heroic measure that are to be done,” said Linn.
She continued to do chest physical therapy and postural drainage for hours throughout the night.
“I just remember, you know, praying. Lord just either take him home or make him better. Because no one could watch him continue to go through this,” said Linn.
With Linn’s help, he survived what doctors thought could be his last day. And his recovery continued from that point on. He was the first patient Linn was able to discharged from hospice care.
Michele Linn wrote about Braden’s story on Facebook. The post has been shared more than 5,000 times.
She said she’s proud to see the baby she cared for reach 18 years old and enter into his senior year of high school.
Braden and his mother Cheri said he has succeeded in his academics, while also weightlifting in the Special Olympics, fishing and even learning to fly planes.
“Seeing other people smile, that’s what really makes me happy is putting smiles on other people’s faces,” exclaimed Braden.
He thanked Linn for her caring for him by inviting her to do his senior year photoshoot and take photos with him.
The family hopes Braden’s story inspires other parents, students, patients, and even nurses on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic to never let go of hope, even in the face of defeat.
“We don’t always lose them all. That little bit of hope sometimes is so important for a nurse that is going into that hard assignment,” said Linn.
Braden is continuing online classes during the pandemic. His ultimate dream is to become a pilot or join the National Guard.