Like most parents, when Sheryl and Martin Givens found out they were expecting their second child, they immediately began thinking of the perfect name for their baby girl. Combining a couple of different family members’ names, they came up with Dakayta.
Everything seemed to be progressing along normally until Sheryl had a sonogram five months into the pregnancy. That’s when their world changed in an instant. Doctors delivered the jolting news that baby Dakayta would be born with a life-threatening condition called myelomeningocele, also known as spina bifida.
Dakayta’s spine failed to develop and close properly, causing defects in her spinal cord and damage to her nerves.
On February 7, Dakayta was born and transported to Children’s within hours. Drs. Wells Logan and James Moore cared for Dakayta in the neonatal ICU.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Dale Swift performed surgery on Dakayta when she was two days old to close the spinal column. Fluid began to build up in and around Dakayta’s brain, and she developed hydrocephalus, a common problem with spina bifida. At three weeks old, Dakayta went back to the operating room where neurosurgeon Dr. David Sacco implanted a shunt in her brain to drain excess fluid and relieve pressure.
“It has been hard on the mind and body,” said Martin Givens, Dakayta’s dad. “The first few weeks were a rollercoaster.”
But in the midst of Sheryl and Martin’s rollercoaster ride, they reached out to support another mother whose baby was also in the neonatal ICU at Children’s with spina bifida. There are 8 to 15 newborns just like Dakayta who are transported to Children’s needing specialized care for spina bifida each year. Their lives depend on our teams in neurosurgery and the neonatal ICU.
One week after Dakayta’s shunt procedure, the Givens family left the hospital and began the five-hour drive home to Loraine, Texas.
“We are so glad to have her home and to start our lives together,” Martin said.