Six year-old Keana is an energetic first grader full of questions that her mother is happy to answer. It’s a joyful contrast to the frightening times before Keana was born, when doctors questioned whether she would even survive. Having just one functioning kidney was only the first in a string of anomalies this little girl would weather through more than 20 surgeries in her first years of life. She was diagnosed with VATER syndrome, a series of birth defects that affected nearly every system in her tiny body—from her airway to her malformed feet.
Keana spent five months in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and was a frequent resident at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at St. Luke’s Children's Hospital, receiving care from more than seven specialists over the next three years. Continuing therapy has helped her learn to walk and overcome swallowing challenges. This fall she started kindergarten with her peers, reads at a first grade level, and counts to 100. A portable device helps keep her airway clear so she can be on the move, just like her friends.
“She’s unstoppable,” says Keana’s mother Shawnda, who is grateful her busy, curious little girl can receive the wide range of care she needs all in one place. “Our lives would have been very different if we couldn’t get this level of care in Boise. Every doctor at St. Luke’s has played a role in saving her life. It’s nothing less than a miracle.”