OWENSBORO, Ky. — A hospice nurse who cared for a baby with Pfeiffer syndrome, and prayed for the child given low odds of survival, has now had the blessing of taking his graduation photos 17 years later.
“What a blessing that by the grace of God Braden West and I have come full circle,” Michele Eddings Lin posted to Facebook on Sept. 6.
Doctors had told West’s parents that he would likely only survive for 18 months after being diagnosed with Pfeiffer syndrome type 2, a genetic condition in which bones in the skull prematurely fuse, affecting the shape of the child’s face and causing other physical ailments.
“The premature fusion of skull bones can limit brain growth, leading to delayed development and other neurological problems,” the U.S. National Library of Medicine outlines. “In addition, individuals with type 2 or 3 can have fusion of the bones (ankylosis) in the elbow or other joints, limiting mobility, and abnormalities of the face and airways, which can cause life-threatening breathing problems.”
As West struggled with his breathing as an infant, his family decided to enroll him in hospice care. Eddings Lin was his assigned nurse, and she was a believer in Jesus Christ. She remembers praying for him one night when things looked bleak.
“I honestly wasn’t sure if he would make it to morning. As I watched him struggle all throughout the night, I remember pleading with God to please just take him or make him better,” Eddings Lin recalled. “It was just too hard for him, his family, and all those involved in his care.”
News Nation reports that the nurse spent the night doing chest physical therapy and postural drainage on West, and he survived.
Not only that, but he gradually improved, and within months, he was discharged from hospice — a rare gift.
“He continued to shock the medical community, soaring past milestones they said he’d never meet. Second birthday, third birthday, fourth and so on, walking, talking, going to school, etc.,” Eddings Lin joyed.
Nearly 30 surgeries later, the boy who wasn’t supposed to live more than 18 months turned 18 years old this year — and is set to graduate from Appolo High School as a straight A student.
West is active in his church, was a weightlifter in the Special Olympics, and is a Civil Air Patrol airman.
“His faith is so important to him, and he shares it with anyone who will listen,” Eddings Lin stated. “To see him now, there is no doubt why God chose for Braden to stay. The light of Christ shines so brightly through him He is hope. He is a walking testament of faith, and he is love in its purest form.”
Recently, West’s mother asked Eddings Lin to have the honors of taking his senior pictures.
“This is such a milestone for him to be graduating high school. What better person to do the photos then the person I feel used God to save my son’s life,” Cheri West told WHAS-TV.
Eddings Lin said the thought came to her on the way to the photo shoot: “17 years ago I cried because I thought his time on earth was ending, and now I’m crying because he is graduating high school and his life is just beginning!”
West thanked both God and Eddings Lin for saving his life.
“18 years ago, I was supposed to be dead, not alive, not breathing, and then God brought life back into my life,” he told News Nation.
“I struggled all my life learning how to breathe. [Eddings Lin] tried to help me revive life and God answered her prayers, and here I am.”