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Mother of 18-year-old heroin addict fights for her son’s life

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - You may have seen a post on Facebook with more than 300,000 shares. A former promising high school athlete is fighting for his life after a heroin overdose. His mom talked to Fox 2’s Chris Hayes about her hopes to save him and others.

Kelly Miller sits with her son Brayden at the hospital, hour after hour.

“I don’t know if he knows who I am,” she said.

She talks to him, rubbing his forehead.

“We only do positive talk. We show pictures,” she said. “I read to him, play radio stations for him, just try to do things that stimulate the brain and show him things that he recognizes.”

Miller took leave from her full-time job, using her faith and a little bit of fun to show she’s not giving up.

“He’s already had miracles. I mean, just to come into the hospital and him to be breathing and his heart to go at the function it was, is a miracle,” she said. “Then two days after the results he opened his eyes.”

Brayden Travis overdosed on a cocktail of heroin and Xanax on March 5. Miller said he started self-destructing about three years ago, when he first tried marijuana.

“He was a star athlete on the football team and he was skipping practice and I’m pretty in tune with where my son is and what he’s doing, and I would show up to practice and he wasn’t there,” she said.

“Then it took him down the road of making contact with other people, and then other drugs were being tested, and then the next drug he was into was K-2 and spice. I had a really bad incident with him on that. He literally tried coming through the front windows of our house. In three and a half years it went from marijuana to heroin and now lying in a bed not knowing what his future’s going to be.”

SSM Physician Assistant Blair Malench said he almost expects at every shift to see a young person struggling with drugs.

“I work until 8 o’clock tonight and there’s a good chance I’ll see a couple people seeking narcotic medications,” he said. “I may see a heroin overdose.”

Malench said they can wake some users from respiratory failure with a shot called Narcan.

Malench described one particular incident with an addict and Narcan.

“…dropped off by his friend at the front of the hospital and you could see on the security cameras looking out. Nurses were all running to the scene, got him on the bed, and we saw him on the cameras looked completely unresponsive, comatose,” he said. “They actually pushed Narcan on the way back before I even saw him back in the room, and by the time I walked in 30 seconds later he was talking to me.”

Brayden did not get help soon enough. His mother said the people with him during his overdose waited hours to call 911.

She received a phone call that he was headed in an ambulance to the hospital. She arrived at about the same time. Doctors told her Brayden’s heart was only functioning at 10 percent, and that all four chambers were closing down.

“His heart, his kidney and lungs, everything was shutting down,” she said.

Now Kelly Miller does what Brayden cannot. She looks ahead as she researches brain injuries.

“I don’t look at it that the future doesn’t hold anything for him,” she said. “He has everything going for him and you just never know. I just have to have a positive perspective on it.”

The Missouri legislature is now looking at two bills that relate to Brayden’s story. One is called the Third Party Narcan Bill and is intended to get the life-saving medicine into the hands of more people. The other is called the 911 Good Samaritan Bill, which is intended to give people the confidence to call 911 without fear of prosecution for drug possession. You can find out more from the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery on Facebook.