REIDSVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — Tate Walker’s introduction into the world did not come easy.
On Dec. 5, 2021, parents Jahavier and Ryan Walker realized it was time to go to the hospital for the birth of their first child, but Tate’s actual entrance did not come until after he’d been in the birth canal for about 30 hours.
Once Tate was born via C-section, he was rushed out of the room due to having fluid in his lungs. Hours later, his parents were able to see him.
What they would soon learn is Tate likely will never see them.
“They said that he was going be swollen for a day or two,” Ryan recalled.
Around 9 p.m. the following night, the parents say a doctor came into the room and gave them news they had never anticipated.
Tate was yet to open his eyes, which was originally attributed to his swelling. However, the doctor discovered Tate had been born with anophthalmia, meaning he did not have eyes.
“He will be blind the rest of his life. That was it,” Ryan said of their initial discussion with the doctor. “Of course, we were in such shock, we couldn’t ask questions about what that is, what that means.”
Ryan and Jahavier said they spent the night crying, trying to fathom what they had just heard while doing enough research to prepare questions for the doctor the next day. After getting some answers about how to care for Tate and why his development would be different than other children, Tate and his parents underwent genetic testing.
“The gene that develops your eyes, whatever that long number is and letters. The letter C was deleted,” Jahavier explained about Tate’s results.
The family has relied heavily on support systems as Tate’s sleep schedule is abnormal, and the parents continue to work. They have also found groups dedicated to families experiencing the same thing.
“They tell us that it’s really rare, but there’s a bunch of people on that Facebook group,” Jahavier said.
Tate’s parents say when his eye sockets are big enough, he will be able to have prosthetic eyes. In the meantime, he will have vision and physical therapy, noting there will be an extended learning curve for his learning to crawl and walk.
What Tate does have, his parents say, are some nerves that would have connected to his eyes. With advances in science and technology, they hope he will one day be able to have eyes implanted.
“Tate’s got people rooting for him all over,” Ryan said.
Shortly after Tate’s birth, his parents claim they were told since his condition currently has no cure. He’d qualify for Medicaid and Social Security benefits.
However, they say they were denied because “they make too much money.” Now they say they pay about $1,200 a month for his health insurance on top of other health-related expenses.