Photo: Luellen Seals holds her daughter, Meagan during her third birthday party at the Lord of Life Church in LaFox on Sunday. Meagan was born with several health problems and wasn’t expected to survive but now she is beating the odds. The Seals family has a Facebook page, “Meagan Seals, Miracle Baby,” which is set up to tell her story. Photo by John DiDonna
by Chris Paulus
ELBURN—Doctors three years ago advised Elburn resident Luellen Seals to terminate her pregnancy because of the slim chance of her unborn daughter surviving.
Luellen’s daughter, Meagan, who suffers from the conditions encephalocele, microcephaly and lissencephaly, celebrated her third birthday on Sunday at Lord of Life Church, located on the corner of LaFox Road and Route 38 in LaFox. The event was open to the public.
“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.
Luellen said it’s been a trial-and-error type of experiment in trying to figure out which combinations of treatments work best for Meagan’s seizures. She recently had a good visit with the neurologist.
Since her birth, Meagan has been making great progress. She can accomplish many things she wasn’t able to a year ago. She can now say words like “mama,” “up” and “hi.” She’s able to track movement. She still responds positively to music and other sounds. She acknowledges her name, and she smiles and shows other facial expressions.
A specially-designed wheelchair, donated by community members and Lutheran Church Charities, has helped with Meagan’s physical development. Although she cannot sit up and walk on her own, her back is getting significantly stronger because of the support of the wheelchair, which allows her to build muscles. She can also army crawl around the room and move around.
“Doctors said that she wouldn’t be able to do most of that. The wheelchair has been extremely helpful,” Luellen said.
Meagan’s had a lot of pleasant surprises in the last year, and has had her share of stardom, too. She met Christian music artist Jeremy Camp, who dedicated the song “Walk by Faith” to Meagan and sang it to her at the Compass Church in Naperville, Ill. She also won a Halloween costume contest that gave the family a month’s worth of baby formula. For a family that spends about $80 a week on high-calorie formula, that’s quite a relief.
Meagan is the youngest of the Seals’ four children, and she now has a Facebook page—“Meagan Seals Miracle Baby”—that 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.”
Luellen said her family has met most of these families in person, some even overseas.
“We carry on conversations about how our kids are developing,” said Luellen.
For community members and local residents interested in donating, there is an account set up for Meagan at the Old Second Bank. Residents can also visit www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/ to donate to the Meagan Seals Fund. Donations are tax-deductible through the church and will go 100 percent toward Meagan’s medical bills and purchase of a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.