Give Kids a Miracle: Gabriel’s unique journey

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"It's so awesome to have care for these kids so close to home"

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Staff at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Little Rock have been there for the Carroll family, long before they even knew they’d need the care provided there.

Heather Carroll adopted Gabriel, who she calls Gabe, at the age of two.

Gabe lives with Down Syndrome and shortly after he was adopted, Heather took him to ACH for his first check-up, or so she thought.

“They knew Gabe. They had seen him as an infant long before I had ever brought him into our family,” Heather said.

This gave Heather peace of mind, knowing her new son had always been in trusted hands. “They [ACH] had his medical history, they knew his issues we were currently dealing with and were far more knowledgeable than I was.”

Fast forward six years and Gabe is still receiving that same care, but now closer to home.

“I’m a patient at Arkansas Children’s Northwest,” Gabe said using his augmentive and alternative communication device.

Although Gabe likes to make himself heard, he is non-verbal. “He speaks his own language as Dr. Bower has told us, but we just are not smart enough to understand it,” Heather said.

Heather said communication is just one of many things the 8-year-old struggles with. “Persons with Down Syndrome have ear, nose and throat issues. Everything in their head is small, their canals and tubes.”

To help with these issues, Gabe has undergone many surgeries. He’s had his tonsils and adenoids removed, several sets of tubes put in his ears and a throat surgery.

Since then? “His vocabulary has expanded. I think that’s because of his education, but I think it’s also due in part to his surgeries. He’s had the ability to move more air and make more noise,” Heather said.

These same doctors who have taken care of Gabe since day one, are the same ones who still care for him now in Springdale at ACNW.

“We see genetics and they know so much more about Down Syndrome than I ever could,” Heather said.

Heather said not only do they eduate her about Gabe’s unique needs, but their knowledge is helping set Gabe up on a successful path forward. “They know what to look for, they know what to watch, they readily explain why they’re doing the things they are and what it could mean for Gabriel today and in his future.”

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