Born prematurely at just one pound, 11 1/2 ounces, two-year-old Ke'Aiden Proctor has been in the NICU since he was born.
"What's holding him back are his lungs," explained Corena Barbee, one of Ke'Aiden's nurses at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "His lungs can't work on their own so he requires support from a ventilator."
Barbee explained Ke'Aiden came to the NICU on the maximum support his body could handle. Over time, nurses, therapists and doctors were able to wean him off of that support and are currently working with different methods to get the toddler on a home ventilator to be with family.
"It's really hard," said Kindness Singano, Ke'Aiden's mother. "Everyone always asks me when he's going to come home and we don't have an answer. It's really hard and frustrating."
Singano says she balances work, school and visiting Ke'Aiden as best she can. However, when she received the news Ke'Aiden was getting the opportunity to take a trip outside to the hospital's garden, she had to be there.
"He doesn't get to go out much because it takes a lot of people to make the trip," explained Singano. "But, when I got that news I was excited."
Because Ke'Aiden is confined to a ventilator, it takes several nurses and respiratory therapists to accompany him outside. Unfortunately, it's difficult for the staff at St. Louis Children's Hospital to find time to leave the floor, which is why Aug. 13 marked only the third time the toddler ever went outside.
"He was smiling at everyone because it's a whole different world for him," said Singano. "He's a people person, so he was smiling and seemed happy."
"He loved it and mom loved it, too," said Barbee. "It was a really great experience and I felt really lucky to be a part of it."
Singano says she hopes her son can come home soon, but was glad Ke'Aiden was able to have some time in the garden.
"It was a happy day," she said.