Contributed photo
Sherah Derstine recently got a tattoo in the memory of her late son Kadin, who passed away shortly after he was born in 2005.

By Chad Koenen


Sherah Derstine has always kept a special place in her heart for her late son Kadin. Just one week after he was born in 2005, Derstine was forced to make a decision no parent ever wants to make, to take a young child off of life support. 

Nearly 17 years late, Kadin’s memory is taking on another form, this time as a tattoo on Derstine’s arm. The tattoo is a memorial for her late child who was born on Jan. 1, 2005. Her son passed away on Jan. 7, less than a week after he was born. Derstine said an autopsy determined he died from natural causes.

Just six hours after he was born, Kadin stopped breathing on his own. Derstine said doctors could not determine why he stopped breathing, but before they were able to get him breathing again, he had already suffered brain damage. Doctors were able to get him breathing with the help of a machine and he was later transported to Fargo, N.D. where he remained on life support. 

Derstine said her young son continued to get worse as his body wasn’t getting rid of fluids like he should have been, while some areas of his brain showed limited brain movement. Doctors told the young mom that even if her son would pull through his medical emergency, he would have limited brain activity and face untold challenges for the rest of his life. 

“I didn’t think it was right for me to do that to him. I put myself in that situation and know that I wouldn’t want to live a life like that because it’s not really a life at all,” said Derstine. 

That’s when Derstine made the painful decision to take her infant son off of life support and let God decide his fate. 

“After a week I had to make the hardest decision of my life to keep him on life support, or take him off. There was times he could breathe on his own without the machine, but he depended on the machine more,” said Derstine. “Talking with my family, we made the decision to take him off and leave him in God’s hands. If God wanted him to stay then he would breath on his own. If not then it just wasn’t meant for him to be here on earth with us.”

Almost immediately after taking him off of life support, Kadin took his final breath and passed away. He was less-than a week old at the time of his passing.

“The doctors thought he would have made it at least a couple hours after they took him off the machines, but Kadin didn’t even take one breath. God wanted him to be with him,” said Derstine. “It was the worst pain I have ever felt and wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy to go through what I went through.”

Throughout those tragic few days of Kadin’s life, his mother credited the compassion showed by medical personnel. She said the staff members provided her with pictures, a mold of his feet and other little things of his to help keep his memory alive. His hat and teddy bear remain in a plastic bin at her home. 

The help continued when it came to the funeral, which Derstine said was 100 percent covered by an organization in Detroit Lakes. Her father also covered the cost of a headstone to make sure everyone will remember the short, but impactful life, Kadin had on the world. 

“That was very nice of them and I’m so grateful for everything that everyone did for me to help me through that hard time. My dad also covered the costs to get his beautiful headstone that I picked out,” said Derstine.

While she had a few mementos and memories from his life, Derstine always knew she wanted to get a tattoo to keep his memory alive. 

“For many, many years I knew I wanted to get a tattoo in memory of him, I just didn’t know where or what exactly I wanted to get. I wanted it to be perfect though,” said Derstine. 

As she toyed with how she wanted the tattoo to look over the years, Derstine met her boyfriend in 2019 who continued to encourage her to find that special way to honor Kadin. She finally came across a picture she thought would be a good tribute to Kadin and her boyfriend suggested a person he knew to complete the artwork. 

They scheduled an appointment with Shades of Gray in Fargo, N.D. and six short hours later the tattoo honoring Kadin’s life was completed. The tattoo was completed just a few weeks ago and Derstine displayed the new tattoo on social media on what would have been Kadin’s 17th birthday.

“The guy is an amazing artist and did a wonderful job on it. I couldn’t have been more happy with it. It was exactly what I had been wanting for so many years. This tattoo meant so much to me,” said Derstine. “Now I have him with me wherever I go.”