Editorial: Meagan Seals a ‘Local Hero’

By on April 18, 2013

The Elburn Herald first reported on Elburn resident Meagan Seals in July 2010, when she was just 7 months old. Born with the rare brain disorders encephalocele, microcephaly and lissencephaly, doctors did not expect Meagan to survive more than a few weeks.

More than three years later, Meagan’s still here, and her condition continues to improve. She’s even learning to talk these days. That’s why her mother, Luellen, refers to her as “Miracle Meagan.”

“She has a huge following on Facebook, and we get many emails from all over the world from people that say she changed their lives with her story or has given hope to some who may be currently pregnant with a child like Meagan,” Luellen said.

Miraculous, indeed, but the past three years have come with a price for the Seals … literally. The family currently has $30,000 in medical bills, and their 13-year-old van cannot support a handicap lift for Meagan’s wheelchair. Thus, the family decided to take a chance and enter Meagan into a “Local Hero” contest organized by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). The contest will award a lift-equipped, handicap-friendly van to the three entrants who garner the most votes and best demonstrate how their story has affected the local community for the better.

According to Luellen, several local businesses, including Paisano’s Pizza and Grill, Old Second Bank and Lord of Life Church, have voted for Meagan on the NMEDA website www.nmeda.com. Other businesses, such as Graham’s 318 of Geneva and Lutheran Church Charities have voted for Meagan, as well.

Voters may re-cast their ballot each day until the Local Hero contest concludes on Friday, May 10.

“Meagan’s story has helped change the way doctors view (these brain disorders), as well as giving many families hope,” Luellen said.

Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age. Children with microcephaly often have developmental issues. Encephalocele prevents a baby’s skull from closing completely before birth. After Meagan was born, she had surgery to reinsert brain tissue and close the gap.

“We were told that she was not going to be living this long. Most do not survive the encephalocele,” Luellen said. “Doctors said that the CT scan looked like someone that had gotten hit by a car going 100 miles per hour.”

Meagan is the youngest of the Seals’ four children, and her Facebook page—“Meagan Seals Miracle Baby”—helps keep the Seals in touch with other families that have members afflicted with the same disorders. The page also features Meagan’s medical records, videos of news coverage and updates on how she’s doing.

“There’s nothing positive when you search these disorders on Google. We’re kind of hoping to use (the Facebook page) as a tool for change,” Luellen said. “We’ve gotten in touch with other families that have children that have the same afflictions. We share ideas on what kind of treatments work the best and what doesn’t.”

The fact that Meagan’s miraculous story gives hope to other families with children who suffer from encephalocele, microcephaly and lissencephaly is just one reason why she is indeed a local hero.