Family learns to deal with cystic fibrosis

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 11, 2002

Mikayla Warren appears to have the life of an averagethree-year-old girl. She loves to play outdoors, watch cartoons,color pictures and have her nails painted.

But Mikayla, the daughter of Michael and Mandy Warren ofCaseyville, sometimes has to stop her playtime to take specialtreatments for a life-threatening disease — cystic fibrosis.

Mikayla was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis within hours of herbirth in 1999.

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“They found out her intestines were tangled and the next morningby lunch time they sent her to Jackson,” said her mother, who hadto stay at King’s Daughters Medical Center for a week to recoverfrom an infection.

At just three days old, Mikayla underwent surgery to remove 25percent of her small intestines and have a colostomy.

After the surgery, doctors told Mikayla’s parents she had cysticfibrosis, something the Warrens had never heard of, but learnedabout quickly.

“My husband has a gene and I have a gene that we both passed toher. We never even knew we were carriers,” said Mrs. Warren.

Each time two carriers conceive a child, there is a 25 percentchance that the child will have cystic fibrosis, and Mikayla becamepart of the 1,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

The development of treatments since scientists discovered thecystic fibrosis gene in 1989 has allowed Mikayla to live a fairlyhealthy life.

She recovered from her first surgery by the time she was twoweeks old and has only had one other trip to the hospital sincethen.

“She hasn’t been to the hospital in two years. The last time waswhen they reversed the colostomy because she was doing so well,”said her mother.

In order to live a healthy life, Mikayla takes a number ofmedicines each day, including special vitamins and breathingtreatments.

Twice a day the Warrens perform chest physical therapy onMikayla to dislodge the thick mucus that builds up in herlungs.

Due to the faulty transport of sodium and chloride, cysticfibrosis causes the body to produce an abnormally thick, stickymucus within the cells lining organs, such as the lungs andpancreas.

Mikayla takes enzymes with every meal to help her body breakdown and digest food.

Because Mikayla is at a higher risk for infection than mostchildren, her parents take many extra precautions.

They plan to home-school Mikayla to keep her away from bacteriaand infections other children carry. Mikayla’s life can bethreatened by something as common as a cold.

“When she gets a runny nose, by that night she is coughing andit sounds like she has bronchitis,” Mrs. Warren explained.

During the winter months when cold viruses are at their greatestnumbers, Mikayla wears a protective mask around her mouth and nosewhen going into public places, such as the grocery store.

“We have to be very careful because she can get real sick fast,”said Mrs. Warren, adding that Mikayla takes a flu shot every year,too.

Other than the safety precautions, Mikayla continues to gothrough life just as the rest of her peers.

While singing a nursery rhyme song, Mikayla stops long enough tosay “I love to play with the dirt and I like to play in thegrass.”

She also spends plenty of time with her grandparents: Mark andPatricia Smith and Mike and Marsha Warren.

Her great-grandparents — Robert and Elaine Smith, Lee andChristine Warren and Jewel and Betty Smith — make sure they get toenjoy plenty of precious moments with Mikayla, too.

Her smile and laughter, despite having cystic fibrosis, has beenpossible because of progressive research funded by the CysticFibrosis Foundation.

Mikayla and her family show their appreciation by participatingin fund-raising efforts for the foundation, such as the GreatStrides Walk. This year’s event will begin at 9 a.m., May 4, at theSouthwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center Walking Trail inMcComb.

Anyone wishing to participate or find out more information cancall Mandy Warren at (601)833-2258.