Of the 100 babies struggling with life at the Helen DeVos Children's hospital in Grand Rapids, MI, the tiniest of them all is Maiingan King Sams.
Maiingan entered this world prematurely on February 25th, weighing only 1 pound, 15 ounces and measuring a mere 14.25 inches. After pulling-through emergency surgery seven hours after birth, Maiingan continues to impress the medical staff with his fighting spirit and will to overcome adversity.
Yet those who know the Raphael and Sams family are not surprised. Their 24/7 support surrounds the baby, fueling his progress. Each day brings new miracles: One day, Maiingan takes his first breath of natural air. Another day, mother TaShena Raphael Sams and father Anthony "Thor" Sams tenderly cradle him outside the incubator.
Now, Maiingan and his family are facing a three to four month hospital vigil some 140 miles from home.
In a recent Facebook update, TaShena Raphael Sams shares, "I love my mom (Tanya Sue Wabanimke Raphael) and am so thankful she's been by our side the past couple weeks. We have been so close my whole life and I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm so thankful I have her and of course my dad. They truly are great parents and I am blessed to have chosen them."
Maiingan's grandfather Paul Raphael says, "I'm just amazed on how much this lil' guy wants to be out on his own already!"
Later he adds, "I'm sitting in the break room and the young father's come in. I see the tears of worrying in their eyes. They begin to talk to me. It's like they been waiting for someone to download the heavy burden they been carrying, so I listen to their stories. So I ask all of you out there that are praying for my family, remember the young mothers and fathers who are here and don't have the support of family and community. Miigwetch."
Knowing the sacrifice that this will require by the family, a website has been established honoring "baby Mnwaabmewzid"--an Anishinaabemowin nickname given by his grandfather Paul Raphael meaning "To be blessed by a higher power."