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Extraordinary teen unbridled by cerebral palsy

8:40 AM, May 22, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Sam Porterfield is a reunion expert.

In 22 years at Northside Hospital, he has cared for thousands of sick and premature babies. He knows how to fix them and get them back to their parents.

One night, 18 years ago, Sam was summoned to an emergency delivery.

Claudette Enners remembered, "My uterus ruptured and so basically Kevin was dead when they took him out during an emergency c-section."

Sam revived Kevin Enners, twice. He saved his life.

Claudette said, "They anticipated that he was without oxygen for eight to ten minutes." The ordeal left Kevin with cerebral palsy.

The diagnosis was remarkable in that it didn't interfere with the life Claudette and Rich Enners wanted for their son.

"He doesn't care what people think," Rich said. "If he wants to do something, he'll do it. The word can't, I've never heard him say 'I can't do that because of this.'"

Turns out Kevin was a very competitive kid. He told his dad he wanted to race, so they did -- and they discovered they were good at it.

Rich said, "We figured out how to adapt bicycles and put a push bar on the back of a bicycle."

They are now trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. At 55 years old, Rich Enners is running 7.5 minute miles, and Kevin is pulling his weight.

Rich said, "His heart rate will go 160, 170 and sometimes up to 200 depending on how desperately he wants to catch the guy or woman in front of him."

They have to secure Kevin's hands and feet to the bike. The involuntary muscle movements from cerebral palsy means Kevin fights his body, constantly.

Claudette said they joke about it. "I'm trying to get his shoes on and I'm like 'Kevin could you please just sit still?' And he looks at me and says 'Easy for you.'"

We asked Kevin to describe what it's like, the relentless movement of his body. He told us, "It's like having your arms and legs tied to a bunch of pulleys and then fighting the strings."

The uncontrolled movements, called dystonia, may improve soon. Kevin will be the first patient to undergo deep brain stimulation at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The procedure has been used to help adult Parkinson's patients with tremors.

What Kevin hopes it gives him - the ability to dress and feed himself. And to drive. Kevin is the consummate teenager. He went to the prom with his childhood pal Sophie and he even danced.

He is very smart, graduating from Wheeler High School with a 3.8 GPA, attending Kennesaw State's honors program in the fall where he will major in History.

He also writes movie reviews and crime novellas, using his eyes to type one letter at a time.

Sam Porterfield never knew what became of that boy he brought back to life twice.

Their paths never crossed after the traumatic birth and diagnosis.

We thought it was time they meet again, and surprised them at their home with Sam last week.

It was a very emotional reunion for Sam, Claudette and Rich, and for Kevin.

With or without cerebral palsy, Kevin is leading an extraordinary life.

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