DALLAS — The mere fact that eight-month-old Cason does not have a feeding tube and can be bounced in the air is a miracle.
Born with a small jaw, an over-sized tongue and cleft palate, Cason couldn't breathe unless he was lying on his stomach. He suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Pierre Robin.
The disorder was basically causing him to choke to death. His mother, Misty Yates, was desperate for answers.
"I was told by doctors at the other hospital that I did not have any other option," she said.
Yates said her son's former physician in Amarillo told her Cason's only hope was to surgically cut a hole in his neck. Misty Yates refused, leading to the start of a fight over Cason's medical care.
"It was a struggle at first," Yates said, holding back tears. "They said it wasn't our choice to send him to another hospital, and I fought with them for several days."
Desperate for help, Yates scoured the Internet and sent a last minute e-mail before her son's scheduled surgery. Jennifer Kaplan, a nurse practitioner at Medical City Children's Hospital, received the e-mail and said it touched her heart.
"They were very courageous," Kaplan said.
Cason's parents wanted a second opinion, and in six hours, Kaplan convinced the other hospital to release Cason, arranged for his transportation to Dallas, and prepared him for surgery at the largest craniofacial center in the United States.
Dr. Richard Ha performed Cason's surgery and called it a success. "We have a highly specialized team that provide this type of revolutionary care," he said.
In layman's terms, his innovative new procedure attached screws and metal rods to Cason's jawbone. Each day the rods were stretched one millimeter.
Slowly, Cason's jaw grew.
Today, the scars are barely visible and there is no hole in his neck, no life-long complications.
The nurse practitioner has become a friend for life for the Yates.
"I just think about all the things that were going to be wrong with him, and how she cared so much to get him here," Yates said. "She didn't know us at all, and it wasn't her job to take so much time out of her day."
But, she did... and Yates is grateful.