Human Interest

Compatible with life: Man with Trisomy 18 celebrates 18th birthday against all odds

trisomy 18

Told that her son would never survive after he was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, Marta Johnson McClanahan couldn’t hold back her joy at the fact that her baby boy just turned 18. She turned to Facebook to share her excitement in an emotional post.

“Screaming from the top of my lungs HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY to my amazing, STRONG and happy boy Kayden! To think we were told he wouldn’t live,” she wrote. “He sure has proved them all wrong!”

McClanahan explains that Kayden has had the odds stacked against him his entire life, but that the doctors were wrong about both his quantity and quality of life. She says he has truly lived “an amazing 18 years full of LOVE, happiness and lots of fun!”


“Drs talked about no quality of life does this look like no quality???” she wrote, sharing photos of Kayden throughout this life. She also thanks God for Kayden and for allowing her to care for him.

“We are all so very blessed and pray we have many more years with him,” she said.

Many doctors consider children with Trisomy 18 to be “incompatible with life” and tell parents that their children will die at birth or shortly after. However, it has come to light in recent years that not only are children with Trisomy 18 compatible with life but that when they receive proper health care, they can and do thrive.

READ: After they aborted their baby for Trisomy 18, they found the test was wrong

Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella has Trisomy 18 and recently turned 11 years old. Her mother calls her “the happiest little girl in the world.” Little Evelyn received a similar prognosis when doctors diagnosed her with Trisomy 18 in the womb. Doctors told her parents that “everything is wrong” with her and that they couldn’t keep their daughter. Now Evelyn is a big sister who is proving the doctors wrong.

trisomy 18

Despite how well these children are doing, parents of children with Trisomy 18 have discovered, to their horror, that doctors will initiate what’s known as “slow code” when they have a child with the condition under their care. Put simply, in this situation, medical personnel avoid taking measures to save the child’s life or treat underlying health conditions, yet act as if they are taking steps to help. Parents of children with Trisomy 18 must find a doctor they can trust.

Kayden is proving that not only can doctors be wrong, but that every human being has value regardless of any health condition they may have. Each person has his or her own gifts to bring to the world — even those who may live shorter than average lives.

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