Nine-month-old Korbin Branham has been through quite a lot during his first few months of life.
Ten days after he was born on Thanksgiving morning, Joe and Whitney Branham of Lugoff had to take their newborn baby back to the hospital.
“He was born full term -- 8 pounds and 10 ounces … then at about day 10 he quit breathing,” Whitney said.
Doctors informed the Branhams that Korbin had reflux, a treatable condition. However, their son was also dealing with other health issues.
“When he was first born, he had tremors really bad and we could not figure out what it was … after neurological testing they found out that those were seizures,” Whitney said.
After around four months, the Branhams finally had a diagnosis for their son: Microcephaly, Failure to Thrive, Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and Chromosome 3 deletion.
Korbin took eight trips to the hospital during his first nine months. Whitney said the stays are usually lengthy, lasting for a few days.
With the multiple hospital stays, taking care of their son proves to be a challenge. Both Joe and Whitney Branham work full time and have another son to care for, Korbin’s older brother, 3-year-old Kolton.
“It’s been a long, long road.” Whitney said.
But it hasn’t been a road that the Branhams have had to walk alone. Joe and Whitney credit their community, family and faith for helping them along. Two weeks ago, their church, Pine Grove Baptist Church, hosted a benefit concert to help the Branhams pay for Korbin’s medical costs. They expressed their gratitude for the people who attended the event.
“A lot of the people were our church family, people in the community …. some people I hadn’t seen before, We just want to thank everyone who came out.” Joe said.
Kolton is proving to be another support in his role as big brother to Korbin.
“He tries to help out with the little one … he likes to give him his medicine, get his machine ready, feed him his bottle sometimes,” Joe said.
The Branhams also think that Korbin has a special connection with his big brother. For example, while Korbin is still learning to recognize other people’s voices, he already recognizes his brother’s.
“Especially when his brother comes around, he knows him. He does good with him. Kolbin can talk to him, play with him and he (Korbin) knows it’s him. It’s sweet to watch them,” Whitney said.
Korbin’s diagnosis means that he might not be able to walk or use his limbs properly. His condition also affects his vocal cords and his ability to swallow. However, Korbin is undergoing therapy that might help him to make improvements in these areas.
“We are hoping with therapy that that’s going to change. We just keep getting told that time will tell,” Whitney said.
The Branhams are grateful for the improvements they’ve seen in their son’s health during the past few months. Even something small, like Korbin being able to hold an object for a few seconds, they consider a blessing.
“Our goal right now is to get him to roll over and hold an object. That’s what their goal is in working with him right now. He can hold better but he hasn’t grabbed an object yet … we figured we’d start off small and work out way up,” Whitney said.
Lately, Korbin has other improvements thanks to new medicine he’s been taking to treat his seizures. He has also been gaining weight since he has been using a feeding tube.
Whitney and Joe consider it a joy when their baby smiles at them.
“ We don’t get too many of those. It’s very rare that you see him smile. He’s doing it more now since we’ve got his feeding tube in and now that we’ve gotten his seizures under control.
“The past two or three weeks he’s been doing a lot of smiling, but the first eight months we were lucky to get one. That is one of the biggest enjoyments we get,” Joe said.
As to be expected, covering medical costs for Korbin has proved to be another challenge, however it is one that Korbin’s parents don’t mind addressing.
“We don’t even look at the big total, we just have to pay it as it comes,” said Whitney.
Payments include the multiple doctor visits that Korbin makes, as well as therapy sessions he attends three times a week.
“For example, if it takes $2,000 for (a treatment), then that’s what we pay. You do what you have to do,” Joe said.
The Branhams hope that both of their sons grow to pursue their dreams.
“We’d like for both of them to grow up and pursue whatever they want to, whether it be college, military, job … that would be the ultimate goal. The way it looks, it might be feasible for one but not the other, we still want him to do the same if he is able to,” Joe said.