Meet Carter Fowler

Carter Fowler is a survivor; a survivor of shaken baby syndrome (SBS).

At just 5 weeks old, in the fall of 2009, Carter’s biological dad became so angry at him for crying that he shook him violently and threw him against a wall.

In a matter of seconds, Carter’s life was changed forever.

More than eight years later, the trauma of that horrific day resulted in Carter having cerebral palsy. He struggles to hold his head up, and he does not have functional use of his arms or legs. He has such bad reflux he chokes almost every day. He has a feeding tube. He is legally blind and has painful spasms in his legs.

At 14 months old, in 2011, Carter came to live with Diane and Clifton Fowler of Springdale. From the moment Carter arrived at the Fowler home, he required an extensive amount of care.

During the first few months with the Fowler family, Carter was airlifted twice to Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Little Rock via an Angel One helicopter. Once for choking, which resulted in pneumonia. The second time Carter had a seizure, choked and stopped breathing. Diane had to do CPR.

“It was the most terrifying day of my life,” Diane says.

Since that hospital stay, Carter has returned to ACH countless times for both major and minor issues. Most recently, Carter had surgery to remove floppy tissue surrounding his airway, which made breathing difficult. Thankfully, the surgery was a success, and Carter no longer has to be on oxygen.

The Fowlers have been an ACH family for 31 years when you include the care their oldest son, middle son and currently, Carter, their youngest, have received. While each of their stories is different, their parents feel that ACH saved each of their lives.

“ACH is a place of hope,” Diane says, “A place of hope when as a parent the fear, helplessness and despair can get deep in your soul. Having a child with a life-threatening illness or health condition is overwhelming at times, but ACH has been my rock.”

Carter continues to receive almost 100% of his healthcare services through Arkansas Children’s clinic in Lowell and the hospital in Little Rock. Carter regularly sees Arkansas Children’s neurology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, developmental and behavioral pediatrics and palliative care.

In 2013, the Fowlers became Carter’s forever family, and thanks to his uncle and aunt, Carter’s Law was passed in Arkansas. The law requires mandatory SBS education to all new parents after giving birth at a hospital or a birthing facility and requires SBS training for all daycare employees in Arkansas.

“Carter’s plight in life is not in vain because, I can promise you, if he makes one person stop and think before shaking their baby, it is worth telling his story,” Diane says.

While Carter will never be like most kids his age, his sweet personality is infectious. Music brings a smile to his face. He loves looking at bright lights, hearing children laugh and play, and having one-on-one attention.

“Everyone at Arkansas Children’s, from the doctors, nurses, techs, café workers to the housekeepers, make you feel like you are the only people there – the most important people. And, you need to feel that way when your child is so sick,” Diane says, “The new hospital in Springdale will be an extension of this amazing care, but much closer to home.”

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