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Company builds custom bed for special-needs child in Pocatello

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Bryant Christensen with his sister Brittany Christensen, his mom Sara Christensen and his dad Eddy Christensen in the new, custom-made bed built for Bryant by Tanglewood Design out of Salt Lake City. | Doug Lindley, Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO — The Christensen family’s dreams came true as Michael and Kevin Herd of Tanglewood Design in Salt Lake City walked up the stairs to their home May 2.

It meant a stop to the agonizing wait the family had endured for almost 10 months. It meant they could once again sleep easy. It meant their son Bryant, who has special needs, finally had a bed made just for him.

“It’s been an absolute blessing the way it has come together,” said Sara Christensen, mother to Bryant and wife to Eddy.

Bryant’s condition is partial agenesis of the corpus callosum, microcephalic diminished white matter of the brain, with a feeding tube and a seizure disorder.

The condition is rare, but Bryant is the third child of Eddy’s who was born with the disability. His son from his first marriage, Tyson Christensen, has the same handicap. Him and Sara’s oldest daughter, Anna Laura Christensen, who passed away 10 years ago, had the same disability, but with complete agenesis of the corpus callosum. His second daughter, Brittany Christensen, was born without a disability. Bryant, at 18 years old, is Eddy and Sara’s youngest son. Genetic doctors believe the conditions are the result of what they call an “iceberg mutation” in which disorders that happened a long time ago have manifested again.

“Bryant is a very active child,” Eddy said. “He loves to rock. He loves to bounce. He has a good personality. He loves french fries.”

Bryant’s first bed was put together by his grandfather, Chris, who essentially fused two cribs together. With the bed’s high sides, Bryant was able to grab on to the rails and jump up and down on his bed safely.

Bryant had outgrown the bed for a while. In July, Bryant got sick and was taken to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. When Eddy asked doctors what they could do about Bryant’s need for a new bed, Primary Children’s worked with Maag Prescription and Medical Supply in Pocatello to get Bryant a new one.

The rails, however, were too low. He fell out of the bed once, and his feeding tube was ripped out, forcing him to go to the hospital to have a procedure done to put it back in.

So the Christensens got to work looking for a new bed, one that could contain Bryant, give him the freedom to play, and give Eddy and Sara peace of mind. Their first attempt at getting Medicaid approval for an enclosed medical posey bed failed, as did their first two attempts to acquire another enclosed bed.

The third attempt, after Bryant’s doctor contacted the director of Medicaid directly, succeeded. Bryant’s parents were overjoyed, and Sara called the entire family to inform them of the news.

But then, three days later in late February, a letter came in the mail saying the bed wasn’t approved after all. It was denied.

“I was like, ‘Why?’” Sara said. “When your loved one is disabled and you’re trying to get everything you can for them that keeps them safe, that keeps them healthy, that does everything you need for them and you’re denied so many times, you get to the point where you’re like, ‘What do I do? Where do I turn?’”

About 10 days later, Sara got a phone call. It was Bryant’s grandmother, Louise.

“She said, ‘It’s been an absolute miracle. I have to tell you. I’ll call you back,’” Sara said.

Louise, who lives in Rupert, was listening to the radio when a sportscast came on. Louise doesn’t listen to sports, but for some reason, she listened. There was a commercial sponsored by Zion’s Bank that featured Tanglewood Design out of Salt Lake City.

“She heard about how they made custom-made beds for people,” Sara said. “She said we needed to give them a call, that we were going to make this happen one way or the other.”

Sara got on the phone with Kevin Herd, who designs the beds. After some back and forth, Kevin presented the Christensens with a final design.

“We were like, ‘This is perfect,’” Sara said.

It took a little over a month to build the bed out of solid oak. It’s an enclosed castle design with a door and curved handles for Bryant to grab. Kevin and Michael Herd personally delivered the bed to the Christensens on May 2.

The Christensens want to show off their son’s new bed, and they invite anyone interested to their home at 643 S. Arthur Avenue on Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. Those interested can call Eddy at (208) 251-1732. For more information on Tanglewood Design, click here.

“We are relieved and excited at the same time knowing that the child will be safe,” Eddy said. “And to see the excitement on Grandma’s face and the excitement on my wife’s face and everything, it’s quite the deal.”

This story first appeared in the Idaho State Journal. It is used here with permission.

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