Braden is an outgoing boy who loves to joke and laugh, sing and dance, and always has the best attitude. He wakes up with a smile and brightens the day of everyone he encounters.
You would never know that such a happy boy had a very scary start in life. At only 20 weeks gestation, Braden’s mom Amanda was told that he would most likely die in utero. If he survived long enough to be born, doctors thought he would not survive long after birth.
But Braden was about to prove them all wrong.
When he and his twin Jacob were born at 34 weeks gestation, Braden was not breathing and had to be intubated immediately. At only ten days old, he was diagnosed with a rare, often lethal, form of dwarfism called Campomelic Dysplasia, which causes deformities in cartilage and bone development and is most often characterized by shortened, bent limbs, floppy air ways, small deformed rib cages, moderate to severe hearing impairment or loss, and severely bent, twisted, and weakened vertebrae.
This little fighter spent over 291 days on a ventilator and was finally released to live at home with his parents and two brothers when he was 11 months old.
“We were told he would never walk, talk, or be able to experience life like an average, healthy child,” says Amanda. “Doctors thought he would most likely pass away due to his condition or be dependent on a ventilator his entire life.”
Braden is now 7 years old and in second grade. He is able to be off his ventilator 16+ hours a day, walks with the aid of his walker, pulls himself up along furniture, speaks with the aid of his communicative device, and has caught up intellectually to peers his same age.
His favorite activities include zipping around in his motorized wheelchair, playing video games with his brothers, cheering on the Cyclones, camping with his family, going to Adventureland, and playing with his friends. Always one to try new things, Braden just finished his first year in Cub Scouts with his twin brother, and this past summer he completed his first ever day of RAGBRAI with his dad.
“Even with all the surgeries and illnesses Braden has faced,” says Amanda, “his spirit has never once waivered. He approaches life with such a fun attitude. He has shown us that no matter what life throws at you, if you keep a smile on your face, anything is possible!”