A 2-year-old boy from North Park needs a rare, expensive surgery and his family is calling out to the San Diego community for help.
Malakai has already undergone multiple surgeries to correct the 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 sweet toddler and his family have to travel to Dallas, Texas for his fifth surgery, which will cost them $45,000. They’ve set up a GoFundMe account in hopes that their community will help give Malakai the opportunity to live a normal life.
“The back of his head is flat. His head is growing [abnormally],” Malakai’s mother Stephany Rodriguez 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."
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,” his father Marco Segura 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 is 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.
Now, Malakai can run around, scream and play like any 2-year-old, but he still needs one more surgery.
“Our insurance doesn't cover it, everything has to come out of pocket,” Marco said.
The parents say they have already raised half the money and are working towards getting the rest so that Malakai can finally have the freedom to play and grow up like any other boy.
You can help Malakai by donating to his GoFundMe page, or you can call and donate money directly to his account at The Craniofacial Center in Dallas.
There will also have a fundraising event Friday at Just Java Cafe in Chula Vista from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.