formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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December 25, 2007 Gayden King: A life saved, thanks to an airport

Liberty Gazette
December 25, 2007

The View from Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Airports are important for Interstate commerce and economic growth, but often an airport’s value is immeasurable. Just ask this one family:

Linda: The week before Easter Gayden King came to Liberty to visit three of his sisters, while their parents stayed home in Louisiana, taking a break from their long time care taking of their then-55 year old son with Down’s Syndrome. The sisters, Brenda, LaDell, and Garnet, were happy to have Gayden here and to give their parents a break. Dying Easter eggs and building excitement for the upcoming holiday, the sisters expected to see their brother excitedly participate in the family activities. But Gayden seemed tired.

Soon tired turned to lethargic, he began calling his sisters by the wrong names, and was uninterested in the festivities. Something just wasn’t right, so the women put their precious brother in the car to take him to the emergency room. On that trip Gayden stopped breathing. The doctors diagnosed pneumonia and began antibiotic treatment, telling them to get him back to Louisiana where his doctors are familiar with his medical needs and better equipped to handle them. People with Down’s Syndrome have many medical problems and it takes a watchful eye to catch things in time and medical professionals familiar with the patient.

Since the hour was late, Brenda and her sisters thought it best to begin their trip back to Louisiana, where Gayden would see his own doctors, first thing in the morning, but then Gayden’s condition deteriorated and they found themselves returning to the emergency room in the middle of the night. “Not many doctors would prefer to treat an older man with Down’s Syndrome who is from out of state,” one with whose medical history they were not familiar, Brenda told us. But Gayden’s kidney’s were failing and his doctors were a five-hour drive away.

Gayden’s parents and two brothers came to Liberty and as his condition worsened the doctors warned the family that he would not make a car trip to Louisiana.

Mike: Brenda wrote us this note: “Because we are blessed in Liberty to have an airport, we were able to make plans to get Gayden home. We hired an air ambulance from New Orleans. A Liberty airport employee opened the gates for our family to be together as Gayden was put on the plane; it meant so much to us because we really didn’t know if we would ever see our brother again.”

Another sister was waiting in Hammond to meet the plane and accompany Gayden to the hospital where his doctors were. A month later, Gayden King won his battle over pneumonia and kidney failure, and returned home to his parents, where he lives today, at age 68. “Gayden has always been and will always be a blessing for our family,” says a grateful Brenda.

One of her brothers added, “I am so thankful for that small airport at Liberty because without it we may have lost Gayden and what a tragedy that would have been.”

Mike and Linda can be reached at

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