Defying the Odds: Stories of SBS Survivors

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is one of the most horrific things a child/baby can endure. It is often fatal, as 1 in 4 infants die from their injuries. Studies show that up to half of infant deaths caused by child abuse are due to Shaken Baby Syndrome. SBS is difficult to identify because it usually doesn’t involve any visible signs of trauma. Despite the odds, some children survive SBS. However, most of these babies suffer through challenging disabilities for the rest of their lives.

Here are a few stories from the surviving victims of SBS:

Will Hayes

Four-year-old Will Hayes surprised the world when he burst into song in class one day, letting the world hear his voice for the first time. It was a moment that surprised everyone who knew him, as none of the doctors ever expected him to speak. Will was shaken when he was just 2 months old. He would have frequent seizures and doctors warned that he may stay in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. However, that didn’t stop the Hayes family from taking Will into foster care (after he was removed from his abusive family). They took him to every medical appointment that he needed, and underwent training to learn how to deal with Will’s special needs. Soon, Will learned to walk, and the Hayes family started to see the fruit of their dedication to the child. After Will’s biological mother plead guilty to child abuse, the Hayes family could finally adopt Will. Although Will’s speech is still limited to indiscernible vocalizations, his family believes that he will continue to make progress.

Warren and Ashley O’Brien

Baby Warren was only 7 months old when his life was dramatically changed. Ashley’s now ex-fiancé called one day and told her that Warren was unconscious and hadn’t been breathing for 45 minutes. After being rushed to the hospital, the doctors determined that Warren had been the victim of shaken baby syndrome. Warren suffered bleeding behind the brain, visual impairment, delayed mental capacity, and inability to walk. He now must spend hours in physical therapy every week. However, Warren continues to beat the odds against him, and survive. To celebrate his one-year survival, the family held a celebration where they collected stuffed animals and blankets to donate to the children’s hospital where Warren was diagnosed. His mother Ashley is using the tragedy that happened to their family as an outlet for advocacy against SBS.

Kolton Jones

Kolton Jones was violently shaken as a baby just one month after he was born. He suffered so much brain damage that doctors didn’t think he would survive his injuries. However, Kolton did survive. Kolton, now 17-years-old, is a major player on his high school basketball team. He used to watch every game the school basketball team played, and instantly accepted the opportunity when he was offered a position on the team himself.

“He’s come a long way, you know. From a baby that wasn’t supposed to live to see him at 17-years-old out there running back and forth playing basketball. It’s really awesome! You know? It’s great!” says James Birman, Kolton’s stepfather. Kolton’s teammates and coach all love the spirit that Kolton brings to the game, and say that the team wouldn’t be the same without him.

Amanda Moral

When Amanda Moral was just a baby her father violently shook her. However, she survived her injuries and showed no major signs of damage until she had her first seizure at four-years-old. Now Amanda is 29 years old, and while she survived her injuries as a child, the effects of her abuse have gotten worse over time. Now Amanda suffers up to 60 seizures per-day along with heart issues. Up until recently Amanda was an honor student at Central Piedmont Community College, but she was forced to dropout due to her medical conditions. However, Amanda is currently undergoing stem cell treatment to alleviate her medical burdens, and she is hopeful for the future.

Even though all of these kids survived their injuries, they have to live life with incredible hardship. The brain damage caused in just 5 seconds of shaking has altered these people’s lives forever. It’s important to remember NEVER to shake your baby. Babies cry and it can be frustrating, but the solution is not found in shaking your baby. Educate your family and the people around you on how to care for your baby gently, and inform them of the dangers involved with SBS.

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