ColtonA miracle. Most people can only dream of witnessing a miracle, but for nearly two-year-old Colton Smith and his family, every day is a miracle.

Colton has hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a congenital heart defect where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. Doctors said that without treatment, Colton would have lived less than a month after birth. Since his diagnosis, Colton underwent two open-heart surgeries and awaits another after he turns three years old.

During his first surgery, Colton suffered a stroke and a seizure. As a result of the stroke, Colton is legally blind and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a neurological disorder that causes permanent brain damage. His CP led to weak muscle tone, contributing to another diagnosis of Scoliosis, where his spine is curved rather than straight. In September 2011, as if Colton hadn’t faced enough obstacles, doctors discovered extra fluid in his brain caused by his stroke. The next month, Colton underwent brain surgery to install a shunt to drain the fluids to his abdominal cavity. His parents are on constant watch to be aware of any signs of shunt failure.

Yet, despite the trying times, Colton continues to smile a smile that could light up a room, and after a year at Heartspring, Colton’s progress has kept his family hopeful.

“We’ve come to accept that Colton reaches milestones on his own schedule,” Madonna, Colton’s mother, said.

With the knowledge and commitment of his therapists, Colton can now chew baby food, wave, lift his legs, put his hands together to pray and clap. He’s strong enough to push himself up when he falls while sitting.

More recently, Colton began to mimic sign language for words like “more” and “all done,” and even learned to say “da-da,” a huge milestone in communication. The therapists make sure Colton’s family learns and understands the purpose of each exercise, so they can continue them at home and ensure progress.

“Colton enjoys attending therapy and loves his therapists,” Madonna said. “We think he tries so hard in therapy because he loves the cheers and clapping he receives as praise.” However, the real reward is the big, toothy smile Colton gives the therapists in return.

“We realize how blessed we are to be given this miracle baby,” Madonna said. “We’re determined to do everything we can to protect and help him grow to live a happy life.”

According to Madonna, the reality is that Colton will always be at risk of sudden death. But as he flashes his bright smile, Colton seems to have it all figured out. Despite all of the hurdles he’s jumped or still stand in his way, Colton teaches us all a lesson. Life isn’t something to take for granted, it’s something to smile about as you get through each day. Every day is a miracle, we just need to appreciate it as much as Colton does.

Published 2013/02/25


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