Malik is a lovable 10 year old little boy whom has the passion and the drive to beat the odds on a daily basis.
On many occasions he smiles and giggles even though his health is quite fragile. Malik was born premature, only weighing two pounds. He has cerebral palsy, vision impairment, microcephaly, seizure disorders and severe upper respiratory difficulty.
He was placed in Department of Human Service’s custody when he was six months old due to shaken baby syndrome. He was admitted to Arkansas Pediatric Facility in 2003. Malik has endured a many surgeries and a number of hospitalizations. When he enters Arkansas Children’s Hospital, a great deal of the doctors and nurses know him by name. Many will never forget May 2006 when Malik’s health began to fail severely and he was placed on a ventilator.
After much consideration and recommendation of medical staff, the decision was made to remove Malik from the ventilator. Staff from APF and Children’s Hospital gathered around Malik in order to be by his side as he was taken off of ventilator support. Malik continued to breathe on his own and many doctors and nurses begin to leave the room stating they would check back on him later in the day. However, Malik survived without the constant support of the ventilator, and he was released from the hospital within a few days to return to APF with the aide of Hospice.
Malik’s health continued to improve and hospice discontinued visits. During this time, my husband, (whom is Malik’s biological cousin) and I discovered that Malik was living here in Little Rock and his health was failing.
We went to visit Malik and from that day forward, all of our lives changed. We were astounded to find out Malik had been located at Arkansas Pediatric Facility for 3 years and we never knew he was there. He was only five minutes away from our home. With the approval of his DHS case worker and APF, we begin to visit Malik on a daily basis at the facility. From this point we received approval to take Malik on home visits. His first overnight visit was for Christmas in 2006, which was truly a blessed Christmas for us.
We were introduced to the idea of adopting Malik and allowing him to stay at APF, but unfortunately the adoption process was unsuccessful. APF suggested the idea of obtaining legal guardianship over Malik instead and this was granted by the courts in 2007. Malik continues to come home for visits and we also check him out to take him to church at First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, where he attends the Cool Kids class. His birthdays are always celebrated at Chuck E Cheese surrounded by family and friends. On some occasions his health still begins to fail but as he did in 2006, Malik regains his strength and continues to go forward.
Many of the staff at APF state how much of a difference that we have made in Malik’s life, but we have to give them credit as well. They welcomed us with open arms over four years ago and they continue to play a special role in Malik’s life, too. The entire staff at APF always steps up to the plate to assist Malik and ensure that all areas of his care are maintained. We are all on a first name basis and this makes a true difference when individuals play a major role in taking care of your child. The staff always welcomes the recommendations and ideas of family members. If any issues arise, they are resolved in an immediate and positive manner. When we think of how the APF staff has played a major role in Malik’s life, we can do nothing but say “Thank You”. The APF staff is more than just a group of individuals that takes care of special needs children. We consider them a part of our family. The care they provide for Malik is on a personal basis which is truly commended.
We understand Malik’s life expectancy is stated as being limited, however we all work together to ensure that he is comfortable and loved which is what he truly deserves.
Eddie Collins and Catinna Morton-Collins
Sadly, Malik passed away in September 2011. He fought a courageous fight and was surrounded by family and loved ones all the way until the end. The last several years of Malik’s life were sprinkled with both good and bad days. He had several episodes of illness and/or respiratory distress. But he would handle these days with an amazing strength and perseverance. He also had some good days when he would smile and inspire everyone with his personality. Malik taught all that knew him how to handle whatever obstacles are presented in life with grace and dignity. The family taught a valuable lesson in unconditional love and support of a loved one.
Malik will be missed by many and forgotten by none. His story will live on at this facility, at Arkansas Children's Hospital, at the First Assembly of God of North Little Rock, and by many others who had the good fortune to know one of God's miracles on earth.