Faces of Medicaid: The Brorson family story

Brorson Family for web

Medical Assistance, Minnesota's Medicaid program, provides essential care for a broad range of families in Minnesota and nearly half of the program's beneficiaries are children. "Faces of Medicaid" is a year-long series that will highlight stories from some of the patient families at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota who have benefitted from this safety net program. Protecting Medicaid is a high priority for Children's. Read more about why Medicaid matters to Children's.


Our son Brayden was born on Nov. 21, 2011, a seemingly healthy baby boy, but in just a few short weeks we would discover that he was really sick. Not long after he was born, Brayden became unable to keep food down. He also had extreme diarrhea.

On the morning of Dec. 11, 2011, we took Brayden to the local emergency room, and within 20 minutes of our arrival he was transferred to Children’s in St. Paul.

Words no parent wants to hear

During our stay in the Emergency Department at Children’s, Brayden underwent several blood draws and X-rays. Brayden’s kidneys weren’t functioning properly, and he was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) so he could receive the close care he needed.

Brayden’s stay in the NICU brought along many tests and emotional ups and downs as we tried to figure out what was wrong with our son. During the beginning of his stay we found out that he had blockage near his bladder that doctors hoped to fix through surgery. Further tests were needed to determine the exact location of the blockage, and that’s when we hit a major roadblock.

A large mass was found. The surgery was canceled, and we received the devastating news that our son had cancer.

The long road back to health

The diagnosis brought us a new set of challenges and a new location as we were transferred to the Minneapolis campus for Brayden’s treatment. The diagnosis came around the holiday season so it was hard to juggle being with our son and making the proper decisions in regard to his care while still finding time to spend time with our 2-year-old daughter.

The time we spent in the NICU in Minneapolis was made easier by receiving a room at the Ronald McDonald House. Having a room there gave us a private bed and bathroom. To many this may seem small, but having our own space really helped relieve the stress of caring for a sick child.

This, along with the care that Brayden was getting, really helped make a difficult situation that much easier to deal with. But we were still left looking at what was already starting to add up to a very large medical bill.

Medicaid made a difference for Brayden

When Brayden was born we did not have any health insurance coverage as we both were working temporary jobs with no health benefits. It was for this reason that we first came to use Medical Assistance (MA). No one can plan for this sort of health problem with a newborn, and this program covered the birth of our son and his resulting medical expenses.

Being on MA really helped us make it through this tough situation. Brayden has undergone a total of five surgeries, four rounds of chemotherapy and countless other tests: the medical bills were really starting to add up. Without MA there would have been no way we could even come close to covering the cost of Brayden’s care. Knowing that our son’s medical bills were being taken care of was a major relief and allowed us to focus on helping him get healthy.

Throughout Brayden’s journey we have always told each other to be strong for him since our strength is all he knows. Having seen firsthand the benefits that MA has provided for us, we know that it’s an essential program that needs to continue so other families who are in situations similar to ours can get the care they need. Without this assistance, families like us would not be able to stand by our child’s side when they need us the most.