MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - His sweet smile captured our hearts, but now his bravery and perseverance are inspiring all of us.
Just a week ago, Robert Stanley was heartbroken. His son Payton, who had just had half of his brain removed in a surgery at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, was having seizures again. Stanley said Payton was not doing well, despite the surgery that was supposed to leave him seizure-free.
However, doctors gave Stanley a new reason for hope. When they performed tests on Payton Monday, they determined his new seizures were nowhere near as serious as what he had previously experienced.
As Stanley explained, the infantile spasms that Payton had before his surgery break down child development. If left untreated, Payton would have had very little chance of growing, speaking, or ever developing past childhood. Stanley said the only way to completely treat Payton's infantile spasms was through the hemispherectomy that removed the left half of his brain. However, Stanley said the seizures Payton is having now can be controlled with medicine.
"He could be seizure free very soon," Stanley added.
What's more, Stanley said his son is a completely different child. While before the surgery Payton had trouble speaking and didn't move much, he's now babbling nonstop and reaching for things. He's also showing emotion for the first time in almost a year. Stanley explained that some of Payton's medicines made him sleepy and unenthusiastic, but he's getting excited about the world around him.
"We were told there was a huge chance he'd never walk or talk," Stanley said. "It's a full 180 miracle."
Payton also no longer needs an oxygen tank to breathe. For the first time since his temporal lobectomy last year, Payton can breathe without any assistance.
So what's the next step for the Stanleys? Going home!
Stanley said Payton's doctors said he should be discharged this weekend. For the first time in a long time, Payton will be able to go home to Oklahoma. There, he'll start home physical therapy and only make monthly trips back to Le Bonheur for checkups.
"The sky is the limit," Stanley said. "Every time his doctors said he can't do something, he proves them wrong."
Though the Stanleys are excited to have Payton out of the hospital and back home, they had nothing but appreciation for their "family" at Le Bonheur.
"No matter what, no matter what we need, no matter what floor we go to, we know everyone there," Stanley said. "Anyone that came in that room, if we needed something, they'd do it."
Stanley said he believes his son has a fighting chance in the world, all thanks to the doctors and staff at Le Bonheur.
"Without the Le Bonheur staff--if I'm being completely honest--we probably wouldn't have Payton," said Stanley. "But he's proving the best doctors in the world wrong, and that's all because of the staff and the technology at Le Bonheur."
Even outside of Le Bonheur, Stanley said he's stunned by the amount of love in Memphis.
He said his wife loves Gigi's cupcakes, and always asks for a wedding cake cupcake from the bakery on Union Avenue. But when he shared their story with the staff at Gigi's, they decided to help out in the best way they knew how--by giving lots and lots of cupcakes. Stanley said the store gives him all of their leftover cupcakes at the end of the day to hand out to the staff at Le Bonheur.
"You hear about the bad in Memphis--the shootings and the gangs, but there's a lot of heart in this city," Stanley said. "There's a reason there's a big heart on top [of Le Bonheur]."
Just looking at Payton's smile, you can tell he's felt the full impact of that love in the time he's spent in Memphis.
Even though Payton won't be in Memphis for much longer, his family didn't want the city to lose sight of their original mission-- to spread epilepsy awareness.
Stanley said National Epilepsy Awareness Day is March 26. He also mentioned the t-shirts he and his wife designed to spread the word about Payton's cause.
To donate to Payton's GoFundMe, click here.
To follow Payton's updates on Facebook, click here.