Kevin and Kathy Martin have been married for twenty-two years. They are natives of Louisiana. Kevin is from Columbia and Kathy is from the neighboring community of Grayson.

Keiland is their miracle son. He was born at twenty-three weeks. The Doctors shared the statistics for babies born before the twenty-four week marker. The survival rate is very low. Kevin and Kathy were told that the next few hours would be crucial for his survival and that they did have options. Doctors take an oath to preserve life. Why were they discussing the alternative? Kevin and Kathy dismissed this conversation and continued to pray that God’s will would be done. God always has the last word.

Keiland survived the odds. He is ten years old and is very special to his parents. He is their miracle baby.

Shortly after birth, Keiland was diagnosed as a “Special Need” child. “Special Needs” is a clinical term used to collectively define those that require assistance due physical, mental, behavioral or medical disabilities or delays.

Keiland has physical and functional limitations but continues to develop beyond medical diagnoses or expectations. He is confronted with multiple life challenges such as cerebral palsy, speech impediment, asthma, impaired vision and PEG (feeding tube).

AMPS: How long was Keiland hospitalized before being release to come home?

Kevin and Kathy:  Keiland was so small at birth. He stayed at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, Louisiana three and one-half months.  During this time, Keiland became very ill. He was transferred to Christus Schumpert Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana for emergency surgery. He was there an additional three and one-half months. We are so blessed to have had the support and prayers of family and friends. A benefit was organized and funds were  raised to help with the expenses that we incurred to be at the hospital with Keiland and to maintain our family outside of the hospital. We truly feel that being at the hospital with Keiland helped him survive. We just knew within our hearts the Lord would bring us through this.  The cost for his care over several months was astronomical. We named Keiland the “Two Million Dollar Baby”.

AMPS:  How did you manage your work schedules during this time?

Kevin:  I was working approximately 50 hours a week. My employer was very supportive during this time. They understood that my son was my priority. They allowed me the freedom to be with Keiland as much as possible.

Kathy:  I was working at Caldwell Parish High School. I had to take a medical leave from my job. I knew that I needed to be with my son.

AMPS:  How did you prepare for Keiland’s release from the hospital? Did it involve any specialized training?

Kevin and Kathy: We were fortunate enough to be put in touch with the United Home Healthcare Program. This program assisted us by providing a nurse that would care for him during the day. Because of their assistance, we were able to return to work. We are still participants in this program.

AMPS:  Does Keiland attend school or is he home schooled?

Kevin and Kathy:  Keiland attends school for half days. The bus picks him up at 7:15 and he’s at school until 12:00. He is an “A” student.

AMPS: What grade is Keiland?

Kevin and Kathy:  Keiland is in the fourth grade.

AMPS:  Bullying is very prevalent in schools today. Has Keiland experienced any bullying due to his limitations?

Kevin and Kathy:  Not at his school and not within our community. Keiland doesn’t recognize anyone as a stranger. He loves people and he loves to play. There are occasions when we are outside of our community, hurtful comments are made by other kids because they don’t understand Keiland’s challenge. The kids may not want to play with Keiland. We tell them, he’s a baby. He just wants to play with you.

Kathy:  Sometimes parents can be very offensive by their actions. There was an incident at the Doctor’s office where Keiland touched a little girl because he wanted to play with her. The parent was obviously annoyed with Keiland. Instead of using this as a teachable moment for his daughter, he chose to isolate her. This type of adult behavior is very frustrating for us.

AMPS: How is Keiland affected when someone responds negatively to him?

Kevin and Kathy:  Keiland is very aware when someone isn’t responsive to or accepting of him. He doesn’t fully understand the dynamics of their reaction, but we can see the confusion in his eyes. He wants to be friends with everyone that he meets.

AMPS:  What does Keiland enjoying doing?

Kathy:  Keiland enjoys singing in the choir. During the time that I managed the Flag Core at our High School, he loved going to practice with me. Everyone was always happy to see him and they made him feel very welcomed. He is such a loveable little boy.

AMPS:  Kathy, I know that you are retired now because of health complications. Can you share your challenges with the AMPS readers? How has this affected your caring for Keiland?

Kathy:  I have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, diverticulitis and hypothyroidism. I was in pain most of the time. I was unable to sleep. My mobility was impaired. There was very little that I could do. Additional test revealed that I had fibromyalgia which is a musculoskeletal disorder causing chronic pain and fatigue. Kevin has taken on the added responsibility of taking care of me, Keiland and our home.

He doesn’t complain. He just takes care of everything. Kevin is an awesome husband and father.

AMPS:  Kevin, how have you managed to keep everything going for your family?

Kevin:  First and foremost, through God, all things are possible. God has allowed Keiland to be here with us. God chose me to be the father of this special little boy and the husband of an amazing mate. It is up to me to make sure they taken care of. Also, growing up in a large family required everyone to help out. I’m just doing what I know has to be done. We still have a nurse to come in and help care for Keiland. There is always the support of family and friends when we need it.

AMPS: Kathy, you keep us updated about Keiland on Facebook. I enjoy the pictures that you post. Keiland is always smiling and seems to enjoy life. What advice would you and Kevin give someone facing similar challenges?

Kevin:  I would say to keep praying. The support of family and friends is very much needed and appreciated.

Kathy:  I would say that a child’s limitations do not define the child. Let them enjoy life. I would tell the parents to also enjoy life through their child’s eyes. It is amazing to see them grow and experience life. Exposure is a teaching tool. Use it. Encourage them to develop interests. This will result in achievements. We could not imagine life without Keiland. He has made us stronger as individuals and better as parents.