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Small reasons to give thanks
Shirley Says
Aiden Dent shortly after birth on July 8, 2009. - photo by Photo provided.

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863. It’s a day set aside to reflect on the blessings one has been given. Expressing thankfulness and gratitude represents the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is about more than roasting the perfect turkey and sweet potato pie – it’s the fond memories of time spent with family and friends. It’s so easy to take things for granted in everyday life.
The warmth of Thanksgiving Day can be found on the face of a child. Jaden Haynie and Aiden Dent are beautiful Thanksgiving gifts to their families.
Jaden, son of Trey and Jenna, was born March 19, 2009, and he has quite a unique story. When Jenna went in for a routine 36-week ultrasound, her high spirits were quickly shattered. She was told her baby had to be delivered immediately because of his abnormal brain growth. A neurosurgeon was present when Jaden was born.
When Jaden was only 1 day old, he had his first MRI. There was a large mass in his brain – and it was malignant. At 4 days old, he underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor. The neurosurgeon was able to remove only 50 percent of the tumor that day. Jaden’s frontal lobe had been shifted as the tumor grew.
Jenna said she will never forget that day.
“I remember saying, ‘Where’s my Mama? How am I going to do this alone?’” she recalled. Jenna’s parents had died a few years prior.
During recovery, Jaden was diagnosed as having hydrocephalus, buildup of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain – and it was building quickly. He had more surgery to have a shunt placed that would help drain the extra fluid. But all the surgical activity occurring in Jaden’s brain caused him to have seizures. He also suffered from many blood clots.
In time, the surgeon was able to remove the entire tumor. The pathology reports said Jaden had glioblastoma, a very aggressive tumor. Trey and Jenna had few options. They chose to continue with aggressive chemotherapy, and Jaden has endured 10 months of treatment.
Jaden was given a 17 percent chance or less for survival, with the possibility of living to be 2 years old. In her strongest voice, Jenna said, “Trey and I were devastated. How could we fight something so much bigger than we are?”
Today, Jaden is a bright, brown-eyed little boy that pulls you right in. He is always giggling and ready to play.
“He’s quite a little fireball, nothing gets him down,” Jenna said.
Jaden’s zest for life is a big inspiration to Trey and Jenna. The Haynie household is full of love and happiness – and hope. Jaden, his older sister Megan and his new baby sister Gracie are three reasons for Trey and Jenna to have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Jaden adores his grandmother, Janette Smith Haynie. He lives two-doors away from her in Richmond Hill. With tears welling up in Janette’s eyes, she said, “He’s with me a lot, day and night. He loves to come to my house. He’ll walk right through the bushes to get here.”
Since last week, Jaden has been experiencing health issues that have been of real concern to his parents. Yesterday, he had an MRI. The results will be known within a few days. Unfortunately, the chance of Jaden’s tumor growing back is high – it’s only a matter of time.
Aiden, son of Andy and Brandy Dent, was born July 8, 2009. His grandmother, Maxine Jones Thorpe, shares his story.
Maxine’s daughter Brandy was hospitalized for two weeks with eclampsia before doctors performed an emergency C-section to deliver Aiden. He weighed a mere 2 pounds, 2 ounces.
“It took my breath away when I first saw him,” Maxine said. “He was so tiny, with a little white cap that was as big as he was.
“His little body was covered with tubes running everywhere. He was breathing with the aid of a little oxygen,” she continued. “He was not on a respirator, which gave us a glimmer of hope.” But the doctor did caution them breathing on his own might weaken him.
Before Aiden’s family could visit him in the neonatal intensive-care unit, they were instructed by the nurses on how to touch him. They were not allowed to rub his tiny arms. They had to cup their hand and lay it on his head as if he were still in the womb.
Aiden went through many ups and downs – his survival was often doubtful. Yet he continued to grow. When he was 6 weeks old, he was released from the hospital to go home and meet his two sisters, Lilly and Gabby.
Before Andy and Brandy were allowed to bring Aiden home, they had to learn CPR and attend classes at the hospital on “preemie” babies. Aiden would often choke on his formula and actually quit breathing. On numerous occasions, they took Aiden to the emergency room.
He lives with ear infections and soon will have tubes in his ears. He recently had a CT scan because his little face is fuller and developing more quickly on the left side than the right, which could cause blindness. In the future, Aiden will see a neurosurgeon in Atlanta and possibly be fitted with a helmet to help with scull development.
In Maxine’s typical positive sweet manner, she said, “We pray for Aiden every day. We are so thankful he is surviving. God has given us a wondrous gift of love. He walks, talks, laughs and plays like any other child. He is one of God’s little miracles.”
Jaden and Aiden’s family are thankful they will be with them at the family’s Thanksgiving table. What are you thankful for?

Hiers was born and raised in Richmond Hill. She can be reached at

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