Tyler Kaut has been through a lot in 17 years, but he loves life and doesn't want to miss a minute of it. Diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a heart defect at birth, he has undergone numerous surgeries, procedures and hospitalizations, which Tyler faced with an infectious smile.
"About 30 minutes after Tyler was born we found out he had Down Syndrome," said Diane, Tyler's mom. "When he was about 12 hours old we found out that he had heart problems when his fingers started turning blue."
Along with Down Syndrome and a heart defect, Tyler has faced numerous other challenges throughout his life. As a baby, he had a reactive airway and also got pneumonia and RSV. Tyler also struggled with eating and required a feeding tube.
In 2010, doctors became concerned that Tyler might have AAI, or Atlantoaxial Instability, in his neck. Tyler had a long MRI and during this they found too much fluid in his head/brain. He was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and had surgery to put in a ventriculoperitoneal shunt about three weeks later.
In 2014, after wearing a back brace for two years to treat scoliosis, the curve in Tyler's back became so severe he needed to have spinal fusion surgery. And most recently Tyler was diagnosed with sleep apnea.
"Tyler's diagnoses have made our family stronger and have helped us stay aware of what's important in life. Dealing with things like surgeries, hospital stays and delays have helped us in developing patience," Diane said.
Tyler has to work hard at a majority of the things he does. A few things that do come easy for him are giving hugs, smiling, giving compliments, playing Wii games, having fun and giving unconditional love.
"Tyler has opened our eyes to differences, diversity and true acceptance of others. We are all different and yet the same," Diane said. "He is a blessing to so many people and a good example of a tough cookie that is soft on the inside. We have learned so much from him and he is a special gift from God!"