Tiny Light Mekayla is an incredibly strong, determined young woman who inspires everyone around her. Mekayla loves being in the water and frequently goes swimming with her younger sisters. She enjoys being around things and people that are familiar to her, especially her family members. She’s full of laughter and smiles and her gentle nature always draws people in.
Mekayla was born with an occipital encephalocele (a water balloon-like protrusion on the back of her head), which was removed when she was only four days old. Her other diagnoses include Arnold Chiari malformation II (a malformation of the brain), agenesis of the corpus callosum (an absence of the corpus callosum), epilepsy, global developmental delay, hypotonia, facial dysmorphism, cleft lip, cleft palate, reflex in the right kidney (2/3 of her right kidney is dead), scoliosis and congenital left hip dislocation.
She’s also prone to urinary tract infections, ear infections, and has a low immune system. Mekayla is completely dependent on others for all aspects of daily living. She has no form of communication and is wheelchair bound. She is legally blind and her level of hearing is intermittent. Doctors predicted that she wouldn't live past the age of five; however, Mekayla's perseverance and the support from her family have enabled her to overcome an incredible amount of adversity and achieve milestones that doctors said she’d never reach.
This entire journey has been difficult for her mother, Tammy, who was only 22 years old and single when she gave birth to her eldest daughter. Extensive genetic testing following Mekayla's birth revealed that Tammy was the carrier of the gene that likely caused her daughter’s extensive medical conditions. She was told that there was a 5% chance that she’d pass that gene onto her next child. The decision to have more children was a difficult one; however, both of Mekayla's sisters were born healthy and now help take care of their older sister. Despite the frequent hospital visits, surgeries, illnesses, and difficult days, there are still many moments of joy. Tammy hopes that Mekayla stays happy and healthy and that her story will continue to inspire others.
Story by Emily Harrison
Images Captured by Sandy Tidy Photography