San Diego

Parents Say Community Helped Raise Enough Money for Son's Surgery

Parents who turned to the San Diego community for help raising funds for their toddler's $45,000 surgery say they now have enough to pay for it.

NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 first introduced baby Malakai last Thursday.

His parents, Stephany and Marco, said their insurance didn't cover a fifth -- and possibly final -- surgery their son needed to correct problems caused by a condition called Mercedez Benz Syndrome. The condition affects the skull's ability to keep up with the growth of the brain.

“The back of his head is flat. His head is growing [abnormally],” Stephany explained. “So this doctor, what he plans to do, is reshape his whole head, open up the skull bones in the back. He said that if everything goes well, this should be his last surgery."

Stephany and Marco set up a GoFundMe account and held a community fundraising event last Friday in Chula Vista. After the event, they told NBC 7 they had enough money to make what can be considered a down payment on Malakai's procedure.

Then on Tuesday their big break came. Someone who saw Malakai's story on NBC 7 made a $9,000 donation to put the family at their $45,000 goal.

According to his mother, Malakai suffered Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy at birth due to lack of oxygen. Doctors had to resuscitate him in the delivery room.

“When he was in the NICU fighting for his life, I said ‘OK, Stephany. You have to put whatever you’re feeling aside, because you have to fight for your son,” Stephany said behind teary eyes.

"He came back, you know. I can cry, I can let go of these emotions, I can feel the strength inside me that he is giving me,” Marco said.

Together, Marco and Stephany have held Malakai’s hand through four surgeries, including three on his skull, and have had hands-on responsibilities in his care that are hard for most parents to imagine.

Baby Malakai was given a feeding tube during his first surgery. His second left him with two screws protruding from the back of his head which his parents had to manually turn once a day.

"It was scary when they told us,” Stephany said. “I cried because I was like, ‘How am I going to turn screws coming out of my son’s head once a day? That's crazy.’ But we got through it.”

The two screws were removed individually during his third and fourth surgeries.

Contact Us