Patient’s Grit and Determination Embodied in ‘We Are Marshall’ Award

by ih-chi admin

We all love a good story of a patient who has beaten the medical odds, especially if it’s one of our own who we are honored to know and treat.

Marshall Elmer is one such kiddo who has beaten the odds over and over again.

Diagnosed with Trisomy 18 while still in utero, his parents were told he was not expected to make it to a live birth. Trisomy 18 occurs in about one out of every 2,500 pregnancies and is a genetic abnormality that can lead to a variety of serious medical issues.  

Beating those odds for the first time, he was born just before Christmas and then immediately transferred to the NICU where he spent a harrowing 19 days—again, not being expected to make it.

But he did make it.

Although his infancy was extremely challenging as he was faced with the many difficulties and complications associated with Trisomy 18 — low birth weight, a risky surgery to correct a complex congenital heart defect, seizures, and chronic lung disease — he continued to make it and persevere.

At just a few months old, and despite everything, his mother Dr. Laura Elmer noticed he was reacting to his five older siblings by cracking tiny smiles and even giggling. It was then that she joyously realized that her son was a fighter and that he was meant to thrive despite the odds.

By age three, and even saddled with many developmental delays, he learned to pedal a bicycle on his own.

Today, at age 11, he loves playing baseball in the Miracle League of San Antonio and also inbounding balls for his Upward youth basketball team. The soccer league where his older sisters played even established an award named after him for the player who shows the most grit and determination each season. It’s called the “We Are Marshall” award.

Marshall is currently a patient of Dr. Karen Keough who sees him for epilepsy.

“Although there are physical limitations to what his body can do, there are no limits to what his mind and spirit can accomplish,” said Dr. Keough.

His smile brightens the office whenever he visits us at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin, and he is a constant reminder to all of us to never, ever give up.