Louisiana family makes a long trip to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital to receive care for 4-year-old daughter

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 7:36 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - A Louisiana family has spent years helping their daughter recover from life-threatening injuries. Now that recovery effort brings them to Iowa.

A four-year-old girl made four-hour trips to the hospital regularly to help her breathe and regain her ability to talk. Now she has recovered, but will still require regular checkups until she is at least six years old. However, instead of staying in-state, those doctor’s visits happen in Iowa City at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Keona Mock is only four years old, but her life to this point has been a long journey.

Tammy Mock, Keona’s mom, adopted Keona at a young age. From the state, Keona was dealt a massive challenge. After she was a victim of serious abuse, she was brought to a New Orleans hospital with broken legs, ribs, and in a coma.

“She had developed brain clots,” said Dr. Sohit Kanotra, a doctor in Pediatric Otolaryngology through University of Iowa Healthcare. “And she went essentially into what we call respiratory depression and couldn’t breathe by herself. So she ended up getting a breathing tube in her windpipe and being hooked up to a ventilator so she could actually breathe.”

Kanotra was their doctor in Louisiana, and the family had to travel a long way to see him.

“The family lived four hours away from the hospital, so it’s a very small town in Louisiana,” Kanotra said.

But after many visits, and many surgeries, she was no longer without a voice.

“The first words she said was ‘hi,’” Tammy said. Tammy made sure to catch that moment on video.

Even after all Keona has gone through, she still needs to see a doctor at least once a year- but that became even harder when Kanotra took a job at the children’s hospital.

“They were looking for somebody who could build up their Peds Airway program and I was already doing that in New Orleans, so I think that the match was pretty made in heaven and we decided to come to Iowa,” Kanotra said.

So Keona and the family followed. Even though they are still living in rural Louisiana, it would not stop them from making the trip to see their doctor.

“The relationship and the bond that was created between Dr. Kanotra and Keona was one that couldn’t be replaced,” Tammy said.

Not even the novel coronavirus pandemic would stop them. In the past, the family had flown from Louisiana to Iowa. But as recently as last week, they drove 16 hours each way to see Kanotra in person.

“She was only like four pounds,” Tammy said. “And to see her now, she’s definitely exceeded all of that, and running around, talking and singing. Those are miracles.”

Making their long trips worth every mile.

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