Trent Walling may be the third of six children but he surely knows how to stand out.
Born in 2002 to Sheri and David Walling of Kingwood, Texas, Trent went home a healthy baby.
At three months old, however, his skin and eyes turned yellow. After running several inconclusive blood tests, he was hospitalized. The doctors were not optimistic. Sheri Walling says, “I was expecting a barrage of positive affirmation from the doctors but, instead I heard ‘we hope so.’ It was one of the toughest moments of my life.”
After a week at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, Trent’s health finally improved. However, the doctors still couldn't explain his sudden illness and continued to run tests. Finally, they diagnosed Trent with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. Like most people, the Wallings had never heard of the genetic disorder.
“I was sure that I had never heard those words before, and so hopeful that this diagnosis would not define my little boy,” says Sheri.
Today, Trent is fine; no one sees him as the kid with a rare genetic condition. He’s known for his humor, especially witty comebacks and silly dance moves. “He keeps us laughing all the time,” says Sheri.
Recently, he even completed a children’s triathlon. “He swam 200 meters, biked six miles and ran one mile, and crossed the finish line without even being winded,” says Sheri. “As a parent, I was completely shocked and inspired by him at that moment.”
He also shines academically; he is bilingual in Spanish, and he achieved a perfect score on his math state test.
Trent has five siblings, only two of them biological. After Trent’s diagnosis, the Wallings decided to avoid the possibility of passing along Alpha-1, and chose to adopt more children.
Sheri describes Trent as “nothing but sweet and kind-hearted” towards all of his siblings and family. “He has proven to me and everyone we know that a diagnosis does not define the rest of your life.”