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25 Year All Stars: Meet Austin

At 5 years old, Austin loves superheroes, costumes, and his family (affectionately known as mama bear, daddy bear, and brother bear). His mom describes him as a jokester, a sweetheart, and most of all, a fighter. Austin has already surpassed many of the initial expectations doctors had and will no doubt continue to make big strides in the years to come.

An unexpected hospital stay

Screenshot_2015-10-07-12-26-03-1_250Shortly after Austin was born, hospital staff noticed he wasn’t breathing very well and realized something was abnormal when they were unable to insert a feeding tube down his nasal passages. He was immediately sent to Children’s St. Paul, where he would stay for the first two months of his life.

At a month and a half, Austin was trached and also had a g-tube placed.

“Before he got the trach, he just stared off into nowhere and would snort when he’d breathe,” remembered his mom, Mary. “As soon as he got the trach, he smiled, was gaining weight, and just started coming to life. It was so obvious he needed it.”

Six months after Austin was born, he finally received a diagnosis – Pfeiffer Syndrome. He also had pyloric stenosis. Doctors told Mary and her husband, Phil, that he wouldn’t be able to walk without braces on his legs, or do much talking – but Austin proved them wrong.

Adjusting to life at home

Screenshot_2015-10-07-12-27-34-1_250As soon as Austin was trached, Mary and Phil began training to learn how to clean, suction, and change his necessary supplies.

“It was a weird start at first because I didn’t even know what a trach was until he had one,” said Phil.  “So initially, I didn’t really know what we were getting into. At first it’s so intimidating, but it quickly becomes routine.”

PHS supplied Austin’s respiratory supplies from the beginning, and once Mary and Phil found out home care nursing was a newly available service, they switched nursing from another agency to PHS as well.

“We already knew and trusted PHS because of his supplies, and everyone was so knowledgeable and caring – and it just made sense for the supply company to provide nursing as well,” mentioned Mary.  “We knew it would be worth it.”

DSC_2720_250_cropAustin’s brother, Noah, remembers when he first came home as well.

“I was in kindergarten and I came home and it was kind of weird seeing him because I just didn’t know why he had something in his throat, but my parents told me about it. It was cool to have a brother who was in the newspaper.”

These days, Noah and Austin love spending time together coloring, playing games and baseball, and going to the park.

“They’re typical brothers,” said Phil.

Big things ahead

DSC_2684_250_cropSince the very beginning, Austin has achieved milestones that he wasn’t expected to reach. He walked at one year old, goes to a mainstream school, and can chat with anyone he meets.

Austin is looking forward to having his g-tube removed and eventually being decannulated (and looks forward to going swimming once that happens), having reconstructive surgery on his face, and is also working on developing his speech.

“He’s surpassed expectations and has shown he can do way more than they thought he could,” said Mary. “He inspires and amazes us every day.”

Originally published: October 8, 2015