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Teen Defies Odds; Lives Well Past Doctor's Prognosis

ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - The joy of the birth of Susan Torres' son Daniel was overshadowed by news from doctors that he was born with only a brain stem and a small fraction of his brain. As a baby, his head was already the size of an adult's. The doctor's prognosis was simple: Daniel's life would be very short.

"The prognosis was grim," Torres said. "He probably wouldn't make it through the day. We had him baptized at birth because we thought he'd die that day."

Susan took Daniel home from the hospital anyway. Days passed... then weeks. They celebrated holidays and birthdays as years passed. And today Daniel is 17-years-old. His speech isn't that of a typical teenager, but it's still improving thanks to gentle encouragement from his sister.

"Say it again," Daniel's sister, Amber, told Daniel as he sat in his wheelchair next to her on the couch.

"Say mama," Susan Daniels urged.

"Mama!" Daniel blurted it out to the delight of his family

The lives of Susan, Daniel and Amber are bound together 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"He's still in diapers," said his mother. "He still takes a bottle at night. He has to be fed. He can wheel himself in the wheelchair but my daughter has to do all the lifting for him. Anything, like that -- the bathing -- he has to be fed. Everything has to be done for him. He's a happy boy but he can't do anything by himself. It's 24-hour dependent on us every day.

"Day by day it's a struggle," Torres said. "But he's a good a good kid."

Doctors can't explain medically why Daniel is still alive.

"They tell me to take him home and love him while I have him," Torres said "But, he's alive because he's happy. He's so happy.

"I''m always in a good mood around him. He just makes my life. He's always happy and he's always in a good mood."

Torres and her son aren't simply inseparable out of physical necessity. Torres said there is an emotional connection unlike any other.

"He's too much a part of my life," she said. "I couldn't even imagine not having him. He's my life. He's a miracle... my miracle."

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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