Last Wednesday, Jan. 12, Molliana Proffitt had her second brain surgery before her second birthday.

Thankfully, she is doing well and currently recovering from the procedure. Despite the good news, dealing with this adversity has put the Proffitt family behind on their bills. As a result, they are now in jeopardy of being evicted from their home. Molliana's mother, Kaitlin Proffitt, has set up a Go Fund Me page on her daughter's behalf to recoup expenses. If you are interested in donating, please visit gofund.me/feec536b.

This poor child has been afflicted with illness throughout her short life. When Molliana was a newborn, just a couple of weeks old, doctors discovered she had a heart murmur upon a routine examination. At three months old, the abnormal valve closed on its own; however, the subsequent months would have the family visiting the pediatrician every two weeks to monitor the situation, along with going to the cardiologist once a month for EKG tests.
It was during those visits that doctors soon found another problem. “Two months after [the heart murmur], we were worried about Molliana's head size and shape. Her pediatrician monitored her monthly, to track her head measurements,” said Kaitlin Proffitt. She was later referred to the neurology department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The baby was only six months old and now had spent four months in and out of hospital visits.

Her neurology physician was Dr. David Franz. He is the founding director of the Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic at Children's Hospital Medical Center; he practices at the Mason location. Kaitlin stated, “Molliana's neurologist was worried about her head size as well, so he ordered an MRI. Her neurologist noticed the Chiari and believed it would be something we would never have to deal with because it was so mild at the time.” A Chiari malformation is a problem with the cerebellum part of the brain, at the back of the skull. It bulges through a normal opening in the skull where it joins the spinal canal. This puts pressure on parts of the brain and spinal cord, sometimes causing severe symptoms.

Right away, Molliana started having problems. According to her mother, she began pulling her hair, smacking her head, headbutting things and would cry uncontrollably. Dr. Franz ordered another MRI, and alas, the Chiari had progressed; he referred the family to neurosurgery.

At nine months, Molliana met with a neurosurgeon, Dr. Charles Stevenson. He has more than a decade's worth of experience at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, specializing in brain and spinal tumors. Dr. Stevenson ordered a more detailed MRI for the child. When the family got the results from that test, they were shocked to learn that not only did she have a confirmed Chiari, but the ventricles on top of her brain were more prominent than they were supposed to be. This was forcing her brain to grow faster than normal. Following a challenging discussion about what was best for the baby, Dr. Stevenson decided surgery was the proper path.

On July 16, 2021, Molliana had her first Chiari Decompression (brain surgery). A proud Kaitlin recalled, “She did beyond amazing during the first surgery and then the recovery process.” Two months after the operation, everything was looking good with her follow-up MRIs; then, things changed after five months.

Doctors discovered the Chiari came back worse than before. Now, it was pushing down into her spine, causing an air pocket at the top of her cord! Molliana's condition, hydrocephalus, was officially diagnosed during this visit. Hydrocephalus is the ventricle problem forcing the young girl's brain to grow faster. Dr. Stevenson then ordered a second decompression surgery.
On Jan. 12, 2022, last Wednesday, Molliana had her second major brain surgery before the age of two. Kaitlin praised, “She did amazing again during surgery. Dr. Stevenson made plenty of room and removed a ton of scar tissue. They did a follow-up CT which looked good. We came home today (Sunday) after only being there since Wednesday. She's doing great and her incision looks beautiful." The baby has a post-op appointment on Jan. 27, to get her incision checked and stitches taken out. Her mother anticipates physicians scheduling another CT scan or MRI in the following months.

When asked if she was happy with the care her daughter had received, Kaitlin replied, “I'm beyond happy with the care and team she had. Dr. Stevenson has helped along the way tremendously. He was actually my surgeon when I was 15; I had the same condition... Dr. Stevenson explains everything clearly. He answers all questions and really does care.”

Molliana's main struggles are her balance; she cannot walk or run flat-footed or straight. She did not learn how to walk until she was 1 ½-years-old, after her first surgery. She also has trouble swallowing food and liquids.
Molliana Proffitt's family lives in Liberty and consists of Kaitlin, mother; Dillion, father; Allia, sister (8), Dillion Jr. aka Juno (3). Looking back at the family struggles during her daughter's illness, Kaitlin said, “It is hard being away from them whenever we have hospital stays, but I know it's what's best for Molliana. We Facetime on Messenger whenever I'm gone, and my family helps tremendously.”

She gave the most significant regard to her oldest daughter, saying, “Allia, Molliana's sister, is a huge help with the younger ones and even with the house. Allia is super smart and the sweetest little girl you'll ever meet. Dillon Jr. (Juno), Molliana's brother, he loves to try to help.”

She added, “I want to thank my dad, my mom, my stepmom, sister and church family for being by our side from the very beginning. I also want to say I'm very thankful for all the love and support we received from our town. Just knowing there were over 100 strangers praying for my baby, comforted me, and lifted me up during that difficult time. Thank you so much!”

Another burden recently befell the Proffitt family. They learned they had until Friday (Jan. 21) to pay rent, or else they would be evicted. "My husband actually sent me a picture of the eviction notice as soon as they took her back for surgery. I definitely had a mental breakdown, but I just prayed. That's all you can do in times like this," Kaitlin said.

She ended our interview poetically, quoting the bible verse, PROVERBS 31:25: "She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

As mentioned, the Proffitt family has set up a GoFundMe page on Molliana's behalf. Along with rent, the family is also struggling with vehicle maintenance, gas bills and providing food for the kids. Any donations community members can give would be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in helping, please visit gofund.me/feec536b. The website accepts debit/credit cards, PayPal and other forms of digital currency. You do not need to be a member of the site to donate.