As I was finishing up my Weekly Run-Down post for this week, my wife alerted me to something that switched my train of thought completely and touched my heart. I’m not usually one to take up causes, but I feel strongly about this one. Please take a moment to read this and visit the websites I’ll link to.
Hunter Greyson Keel was born to Dennis and Amber Keel on April 14, 2007. He was born at 30 weeks gestation with semi-lobar holoprosencephaly (H.P.E.), a rare and almost always fatal condition characterized by the failure of the the forebrain to develop. Despite this condition and others- including a cleft lip and palate, only one functioning kidney, and dextrocardia- little Hunter’s spirit is whole and strong and he blesses the lives of his family every day he’s with them.
Because of his condition, Hunter stayed at Primary Children’s Hospital until November, when Dennis and Amber decided against putting him through yet another surgery for mitral valve stenosis. Amber recounts the day they took Hunter home on her blog:
They told me that with his blood gas being as bad as it was, he may only have a few hours to a few days…they told me they were worried he wouldn’t survive the ride home….This was 4 weeks ago. This roller coaster that Dennis and I have been on has been so stressful, we have gone through the “imminent” loss of our son so many times. I held him all the way home that night, I know I probably shouldn’t have, but i couldn’t bare having him pass in his car seat.
Since then, Hunter has continued to defy the odds against him. He’s becoming aware of his surroundings and has learned to grasp and grab things. He loves focusing on faces and has started to smile. “The next goal is Christmas,” Amber writes. “I cannot tell you how much i hope he chooses to spend it with us. We have the tree up, which he LOVES. We have his stocking, and will soon have his first ornament.”
I think of my own kids, our youngest being just a month younger than Hunter, and I can’t imagine what the Keels are going through. As we talked about Hunter and read Amber’s blog, we couldn’t help but be amazed at this family, their enduring spirit, and the love they have for their little boy. Amber writes about a particularly tough night last week:
I rocked him and patted his bottom and said “Hunter, I know that you have gone through so much, and have so many trials and discomforts…do you know how much you are loved baby boy?” I proceeded to tell him how much I loved him and daddy loved him, how much all of you love him and God and his angels love him. About halfway through the conversation he calmed down was just looking at me. Now, he may have just been wondering what his mother was chattering on and on about….but in my heart, I just know that he could understand what I was saying.
The toll of this experience has been emotional, but financial as well. As you can imagine, the hospital stay and the numerous procedures undertaken to help Hunter have resulted in overwhelming financial strain. This has prompted friends or family (perhaps both, I don’t know) to create a website, Help For Hunter, where donations can be made.
I don’t know the Keels, but I can’t imagine being on the emotional roller coaster they’re on. Financial donations cannot heal Hunter, but they can certainly ease some of the stress his parents are facing. With just under a week until Christmas, I can’t think of a better gift then a donation or kind words for this family and their special little one. 2000 years ago, wise men gave gifts to a babe in a manger. What a blessing it is to have the same opportunity now.
If you’re like me, sometimes the buzz and business of the season cloud the Christmas spirit. If you need a kick start this year, visit Amber Keel’s blog here.
Please also visit www.HelpForHunter.com to make a donation or drop the Keels a line. Please keep Hunter and his parents in your thoughts and prayers this Christmas.