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Tanner Williams Part 3

Originally published Dec. 21, 2005

Helen McGinty clutched photographs of her grandson Tanner Williams as she bowed her head and asked God for a miracle.

Around her, on a cold Monday night, family members and supporters gathered along the steps of the Butler County Courthouse, while Rev. Allen Stephenson led the group in hopeful prayer for the dying.

Tanner, the firstborn son of Jennifer and Thomas Williams, has but a few short weeks of life left in his frail body. A heart transplant, looked upon as a last option by surgeons at the Children's Hospital in Boston, it seems is not an option at all. After three open-heart surgeries to repair a hole brought on by Atrioventricular Canal Defect, Tanner is not strong enough to survive the transplant.

&#8220Doctors in Boston are suggesting that they go ahead and start making preparations to bring him closer to home so when he does pass away he'll pass away in Birmingham and not in Boston,” said McGinty. &#8220There's nothing else they can do.”

Through the candlelight, McGinty shared pictures of her only grandchild. She was in Boston last week to be with Jennifer and Tanner. They dressed Tanner in Christmas colors and captured a few moments on film.

&#8220Look at that smile,” she said, referring to the photos. &#8220Look at that red hair and blue eyes. He's always smiling. Always smiling and blowing kisses.”

Tanner was born on Nov. 19, two-months early, and since that time, McGinty has watched her son Thomas fight the emotional, spiritual and financial battle to keep Tanner alive.

&#8220I feel like I've fought it with him because I've been there since the day he (Tanner) was born,” she said. &#8220It's hard. It's been so hard. My son has done everything he can to work, keep the bills paid up at home and take care of Jennifer's needs in Boston too. And it's hard on him being away from his family.”

Thomas' sister Susan Peroni said she called her brother one night. He was opening a can of corn for dinner.

&#8220He said, ‘Susan, who am I going to cook a big dinner for? I'm here alone.'” Peroni said.

Before she left Boston, McGinty said she talked with Tanner.

&#8220I told him, I said, ‘I know that God's trying to take you and we're trying to keep you. And if God wins and he takes you, you'll live in our hearts forever.”

Sabrina Reynolds concluded the prayer vigil with song and Vesta Taylor distributed &#8220Pray for Tanner” paper Christmas ornaments to those attending.

Taylor, who owns Alissa's Closet, said the ornaments have been placed on two trees at her business and area churches have collected ornaments as well.

&#8220Tanner has a lot of people praying for him,” said Peroni.

McGinty still holds out for the miracle.

&#8220It could be weeks or months and who knows then?” she said. &#8220Maybe we will get to keep him.”