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Rising Above Challenges


Weighing one pound, four ounces, 24-week-old Ky’lan came into this world ready to fight for his life. He spent about nine months in a neonatal intensive care unit incubator before being put on a ventilator and given a tracheotomy and g-tube.

“I was devastated,” Summer Diggs-Tate, Ky’lan’s mother, says. “Ky’lan had so many struggles and complications, from trouble breathing to not knowing if he would hear or see, let alone live to tell his story of being a preemie.” 

Diggs-Tate says the doctors she encountered did not lend her much support. They were negative about Ky’lan’s prognosis and made comments that brought her down concerning his future.

Despite such unfavorable circumstances, Diggs-Tate chose to rise above it and use her faith to get through it. She prayed throughout the many surgeries and tests done on her son, and slowly he got better.

Ky’lan was able to leave the NICU in October 2015. He needed oxygen at all times, and he was on a number of medications, which would help his body get nutrients so he could eventually grow like a healthy child would.

He has made incredible progress since he left the NICU. He slowly gained muscles in the limbs he couldn’t even move when he was born. He began crawling when he was two-and-a-half years old, and he took his first steps in December 2016.

Diggs-Tate was especially happy when Ky’lan no longer needed oxygen tanks. In 2017, Ky’lan received an airway reconstruction surgery, allowing him to have his trach capped so he could learn to breathe through his mouth and nose.

“His lungs became stronger, and I finally got the chance to hear him make sounds,” Diggs-Tate says. “Most parents would hear their children saying plenty of words. Ky’lan was just making sounds, but for him, that was a huge step. He now says a few words and knows a little sign language.”

Now, Ky’lan is three years old and inspires everyone around him by always being the life of the party and spreading positivity with his big smile. “Whenever I’m down or discouraged, the minute I see his face, I’m happy,” Diggs-Tate says.

Ky’lan loves playing with his dog, Denham, and although he doesn’t talk as much as other
children his age, he always finds a way to tell you exactly what he wants you to know. He has a big personality and is always full of energy.

Ky’lan was able to have his trach removed in September of this year, and he will soon be entering the next big chapter of his life by going to preschool.  “Right now, he goes to a daycare for children with special needs,” Diggs-Tate says. “He has been with the same kids since he was one years old, so I don’t know how he will adapt to a new school, but I really believe he will do great.”

Although watching your child go through such difficulties as Ky’lan did can be difficult, Diggs-Tate encourages other parents to stay strong and be hopeful. “Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged,” Diggs-Tate says. “His medical journey has not been easy, but from the beautiful smile he keeps on his face, one would never know the challenges he has faced.” ■

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31 Oct 2018


By Madeline Rathle

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