Nelson-born girl faces biggest battle yet


On Christmas Eve, five-year old Sara Meech had what her parents are calling a “miracle seizure”.

The seizure came out of the blue, she’d never had one before and doctors could find no explanation. While it was harmless, what it uncovered was not.

Several doctors and specialist appointments later, Sara has been diagnosed with syringiomyelia, a condition in which her brain sits low in her skull and prevents the fluid around her brain from draining properly. The fluid has made it’s way down through Sara’s entire spinal cord and doctors say that in a year, if untreated she will be paralysed.

Syringiomyelia is a rare condition usually found in adults between the ages of 35 and 40 and is not normally picked up until too late.

When Sara went to hospital for her unrelated and unexplainable seizure, she underwent CT scans and a full body MRI that spotted the fluid which would have been otherwise unnoticed.

Nelson born and bred mother, Kylie Meech says the family see the seizure as a blessing.

“There was nothing that could have caused it, no infection, temperature, abnormal brainwaves and yet, without the seizure and MRI we would not have known anything about it until she was paralysed.”

Kylie says when she found out she “just went numb”.

“The neurosurgeon said he’s never seen a case so severe, it’s normally just a portion of the spinal column but the entire spinal column is filled up.”

To prevent paralysis, surgeons will remove 1cm of spine and 2cm of skull to relieve pressure and drain the fluid that is filling up her entire spinal column.

Sara, along with her parents and two brothers, lived in Nelson before moving to Christchurch in 2012, where she will undergo the surgery on Thursday.

“Ever since I’ve just tried to be strong for the kids but it’s hard,” says Kylie. “Every operation has a risk but we’re dealing with the spine and brain here, we could lose her or she could come out of it permanently paralysed.

“She’s a brave little girl but sometimes she does wake up in the middle of the night and come into our room crying, saying, ‘mummy I’m worried’ and she’ll just climb into bed have a hug and fall asleep.

“I want Sara to know that she’ll be going through a serious operation but I don’t want her to be upset or scared.”

Following the surgery, Sara will be in the intensive care unit for a night and then the children’s ward for a week before constant monitoring during a six week recovery at home.

Both Kylie and Daryl wish to be with her during this time and are arranging leave, babysitters and catsitters so they may do so.

However, the couple do not own a car and will have to catch two busses to get from Sara at the hospital to their two sons at home.

Kylie and Daryl set up a Give a Little page which has already raised around $300.

The money raised will go towards post-op doctors appointments, transport to and from the hospital, food during the two weeks and financial assistance for those that look after the children and four cats.

To visit the Give a Little page and donate to Sara and her family, Click Here.