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Kaylana's story


When Kaylana of Throop had trouble hearing in her left ear, her parents, Kayla and Steven, assumed the problem was as simple as a common ear infection.  They had no idea that their oldest daughter would need to undergo brain surgery in order for her to have any chance to regain her hearing.

In December 2009, Kayla and Steve took 5-year-old Kaylana to the doctor after she complained of headaches and pain in her left ear.  They were told that Kaylana may have nerve damage or a dead nerve in her ear but an MRI was needed to further understand the problem. 

Those test results led to a shocking diagnosis: Kaylana had a Chiari Malformation, which meant brain tissue near the back of her skull was swelling and affecting her hearing.  It was an extremely rare condition, especially for somebody her age. 

By May 10, 2010, Kaylana was in the operating room for surgery.  The decision to continue with the procedure was a risk, as is the case with almost any surgery involving the brain, but it was one her family and doctors were willing to take in order to put an end to Kaylana’s severe headaches and help restore her hearing.  The only thing that Kayla and Steven could do was nervously wait for their oldest daughter to return from surgery.

After four hours in the operating room at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Amir Kerenovich, MD, was able to share uplifting news from the results of Kaylana’s surgery.  Dr. Kersenovich reduced the pressure on her brain by removing a small portion of her skull to make more room for her brain.  The surgery was a success, and the next morning, Kaylana had regained nearly perfect hearing in her left ear.

“The outcome was very gratifying considering it was a gamble that the parents and I took in doing the surgery,” recalls Dr. Kersenovich.  “We were thrilled to see that she had re-gained her hearing the very next day.”

“You can’t even tell she had brain surgery,” says her mother, Kayla.  “She’s the happiest little girl and has so much energy.”

Today, Kaylana lives a healthy, active life and enjoys playing basketball with her friends.  Despite having surgery at such a young age, she still remembers and is very grateful for all of the people who helped her through her time of need. 

When asked about her surgery, Kaylana will smile, pull back her hair and show off the tiny scar made from the incision behind her left ear.  She proudly calls this her “Miracle Scar.”