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Foundation Stories > Milnes Family Surprise

COLUMBIA, MO - Six-month-old Makayla Milnes, daughter of Veterans United employee, Dennis Milnes, was born with CHARGE Syndrome – a rare birth defect that occurs in about one in every 9 – 10,000 births worldwide. Infants affected by CHARGE syndrome are often born with life-threatening birth defects and for Makayla, this proved to be true. Shortly after birth, her throat swelled up and doctors could not insert the breathing tube down her throat. As a result, weeks-old Makayla stopped breathing.

“She died and the only way they could bring her back was to do the emergency tracheostomy on her” explained Dennis. A tracheostomy is usually temporary, but in Makayla’s circumstance, the trachea tube may remain long term or even permanently.

On Dennis’s 33rd birthday, Veterans United employees gathered for cake and balloons in what appeared to be a surprise party. Savannah, Makayla’s mother and Dennis’s wife, also attended the birthday celebration, which turned out to be much more than the family could’ve imagined.

Colleague Amy Greenwood surprised the Milnes family when she informed them Veterans United Foundation was providing $50,000 to cover some of the medical expenses brought on by Makayla’s diagnosis. With feeding issues, breathing difficulties, multiple congenital abnormalities, and the presence of a tracheostomy tube, little Makayla requires in-home care and extensive medical supplies, most of which are not covered by insurance. Furthermore, many babies with CHARGE syndrome experience hearing loss, vision loss, and balance problems which delay their development and communication abilities. Sadly, all are likely to require medical and educational involvement for years to come.

Despite these seemingly insurmountable hurdles, children with CHARGE syndrome often far surpass their medical, physical, and social expectations. Additionally, extensive scientific and clinical research is being conducted in order to better understand the causes, treatments and management of this complex disease.

Veterans United Foundation is glad to be able to assist Dennis and Savannah Milnes in their daughter's medical care and will continue to keep the family in our hearts and thoughts. For more information, please view the video below.

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