Warning: This story involves some graphic and disturbing details.
HOUSTON -- Four years ago the world was horrified by a most unusual case of genital mutilation. The victim was a five-week-old baby boy.
In March of 2007, Holden Gothia’s mother, Katherine Nadal, took a knife and cut off all his private parts. She also cut deeply into his leg.
"His femoral vein was severed and his artery was punctured," said Patches Deshazo, Holden’s paternal aunt who adopted him.
Nadal got 99 years in prison for what she did. She claimed the small family dog was responsible for Holden’s brutal injuries. During trial, it was revealed that she used cocaine and appeared unconcerned in the minutes after she mutilated her baby.
Four years later, Holden is having the best life possible in Deer Park with the only family he has ever known. Not only did he survive the brutal attack, he is thriving.
"Holden is amazing," Deshazo said. He is the baby brother to the family’s three boys, ages 24, 17 and 14.
"He’s got ten times more energy than I do. He wears me out daily," said Parker Deshazo, a 17-year-old high school football player.
Holden doesn’t typically call his adopted brothers by name. Instead he refers to them as, "The Bubbas," collectively and individually, his mom Patches said.
He sat still just long enough for an interview about what he wants to be when he grows up.
"A football player and a Power Ranger and a drummer," Holden said.
He sings too.
"’Standing on the corner.’ That’s Dean Martin," he said. When told that’s an old song, Holden replied, "Well, not for me."
Then he grabbed the reporter’s microphone and started interviewing her and his family members.
"When’s your birthday?" he asked.
"September 16th," one "Bubba" answered. "July 3rd," said another.
Holden sees his biological dad, Camden, on a regular basis. But his mom said he doesn’t know about his biological mother. Patches said when the time comes she will tell him about her, and in an age-appropriate way, tell him what she did to him.
"His story is his story and it’s not gonna’ change no matter how we feel or how badly we want to change it," said Patches. "And so we don’t ever want him to feel shameful. I just feel like it’s going to be healthier for him to just own his story and for him to be really okay with it. "
She said Holden looks at his dad and his brothers and figures the only reason he doesn’t look like them is because he is too young. He thinks his penis and testicles will grow when he is older.
"There is nothing," where they should be, said Patches Deshazo. "There’s just a hole where the urethra meets the surface of the skin and it looks a lot like here," she said, pointing to the inside of her arm, "but with a lot of scar tissue, like a burn victim," she said.
Just before he hits puberty Holden will face extensive and expensive reconstructive surgery, estimated to cost at least half a million dollars.
To help pay for it, strangers, well-wishers, family and friends have donated $300,000 so far.
There was a benefit concert in Lake Charles, Louisiana on June 5. Holden took the stage to thank the crowd and was reluctant to give the mic back, his mom said. He also enjoyed playing a drum solo.
His family has created a website: Heroes for Holden.org for those wishing to show support.
"As he gets older those are gonna’ be the challenging and difficult days," said Kent Deshazo, Holden’s dad.
The family relies heavily on their Faith in God.
"I thought that I was a pretty good Christian and faithful before all this happened and I was pretty far off," said Patches. "I don’t know how people get through a situation like this without faith."
But his family said if anyone can come through it all with resilience and strength, it’s Holden.
"He’s the strongest person I’ve ever met," said Parker.