Oklahoma family recovers after son has life-altering surgery

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ELK CITY, Okla. - "Braxton is a little 14-month-old boy that we were originally told had no chance at survival," mother Amber Howell said.

It was something she'd never thought she'd hear and when she did, her family took a scary course of action.

"Probably look for him a coffin," Howell said.

Howell said she wasn't going to let her son go without a fight.

"Braxton had a major birth defect called a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, it's a hole in the muscle in the diaphragm and it allows major organs in the body to come up to the chest," she said.

As soon as the family learned about Braxton's condition, their search began.

"So we just kind of googled doctors that could do the repair surgery, and googled search CDH, and ended up finding one that did it for 26 years in St. Petersburg, Florida," Howell said.

From there, Howell said she had problems trying to find insurance in Oklahoma that would cover the costs.

"We couldn`t find any insurance to cover us to leave the state of Oklahoma," she said.

Howell says they tried multiple different options, but no one would help.

She says every time she reached out to SoonerCare, she would be on hold, and eventually got hung up on.

"Eventually, we ended up just giving up on SoonerCare," Howell said.

News 4 reached out to SoonerCare about the situation.

Representatives tell us they can't comment on specific cases but referred us to their policies below:

"The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) assures that any individual eligible for SoonerCare, may obtain services from any institution, agency, pharmacy, person, or organization that is contracted with OHCA and qualified to perform the services."

Howell says they had to drain their life savings, and move to Florida for months, just to keep Braxton alive.

"Sadly, we had to leave our other three kids here with family, and we lived in a Ronald McDonald house with 34 other families and it was extremely hard," she said.

After a long road of emotional and financial hardship, Howell says Braxton is now a healthy and happy baby.

"Blessed. We`re blessed. We thank God for him every day," she said.

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