TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - For John, he's just like any other three-year-old kid - Learning to walk, eat and play. But for him, it takes more than one person to help him learn these everyday tasks.
"I don't know what I would have done without the Mercy family," said Tracy Collins, John's mom. "I mean, between the hospital, the nurses, the doctors, everybody has just made it so much easier. Because it's a lot, it's a lot sometimes. They're always there for anything that we need."
John was born premature and weighed just more than a pound. He couldn't breathe or eat on his own.
Today, he's learning to understand the sensation of food and how to chew.
"He was intubated for so long," Collins explained. "So now, just learning how to swallow again and making him actually want food. And he's slowly getting there."
Doctors at Mercy Children's Hospital performed numerous surgeries to correct trachea issues, laser eye surgery to correct John's vision and the placement of ear tubes, among other things.
The strength of John's spirit is radiating, showing his mom and therapists how far he's come and how much he can still learn.
"Watching that child do the best that they can and become frustrated with themselves, because they're working so hard and maybe they just quite haven't got to that. But then once they do, I mean, the joy that the child's and the family and everyone that's played a part in getting them there is just amazing," said Amanda Wilhelm, Pediatric Physical Therapist at Mercy Children's Hospital.
The day we visited John was a big day.
"Playing with a graham cracker, and he put it up to his mouth. That's the first time he ever did that, and for us that's huge," Collins said with tears in her eyes. "It's huge. So I'm like, I was trying not to cry then."
Remembering these small victories makes the tough days not so hard.
"We still deal every day with his lungs being weak and trying to grow out of that. He has been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. he has sense grown out of that," said Collins. "So he's coming only."