By GRETCHEN MURRAY Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Hot summer weather arrived the same day as Elaina Campbell’s new swimming pool, and she’s been delighted ever since. Elania, 13, of Blair Township, received the pool on July 10 as a gift from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Elaina was born five weeks prematurely, said her mother, Tracie Campbell. Elaina was 3 1/2 pounds at birth and diagnosed with Roberts Syndrome, a rare bone deficiency syndrome that left her without elbows or the radius bones in her arms.
“Elaina has been fighting health battles since birth,” Campbell said. “Completely unrelated to her diagnosis of Roberts Syndrome, Elaina also was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis when she was 1 1/2 years old, a birth defect that causes the soft spot on a baby’s head to close before it should.”
The result was swelling in the brain that required the insertion of a shunt that she still has in her brain today.
The family coped with Elaina’s physical challenges throughout her early childhood. She’s been enrolled in Traverse Bay Intermediate School District since she was three, and always has been nonverbal and uses sign language, but she is able to walk, Campbell said.
Campbell said Elaina thrived until an unexpected setback occurred in October 2010, when a call from the school started a chain of medical emergencies.
“They said Elaina was crying and seemed lethargic,” Campbell said. “An aneurysm in her brain had ruptured, the shunt failed and she suffered a stroke.”
Elaina was flown from Munson Hospital to the University of Michigan, where surgery revealed six or seven smaller aneurysms in her brain that her doctors continue to monitor, her mother said. She was put in a medically induced coma for a week.
The stroke affected her left side and essentially sent her back to infancy.
“We had to start all over,” Campbell said. “She had to learn to roll over, sit up, eat — everything she had to learn to do before, she had to learn to do again.”
Elaina’s condition has resulted in years of physical, occupational and speech therapy. She’s now back to school part-time while she continues ther-
apy at Munson. She walks with a gait-trainer walker and can go short distances on her own.
“In therapy, she’s like a fish. Swimming is her favorite thing to do of all time,” Campbell said.
The Campbells had small backyard pools until Angie Ayers, owner of In Home Health Care Services, asked if she could nominate Elaina for a Make-A-Wish Foundation wish.
“The family is so special. They don’t ask for anything, and I know Elaina’s dream is to be in the water. I wanted to make her wish come true,” Ayers said.
Wish Coordinator Erica Hunt of the Make-A-Wish Grand Rapids office worked with Elaina’s doctors who agreed to a 24-foot diameter pool, and then with excavators, electricians and pool installer Fox Pools of Grand Rapids to make her wish come true.
“Granting Elaina’s wish is pretty typical of what we do,” said Hunt. “The biggest myth about Make-A-Wish is that we only work with children with terminal conditions. We also grant wishes to children ages 2 1/2 to 18 years who have life-threatening conditions.”
Hunt said each year the organization typically grants over 420 wishes in Michigan.
“Almost half are Disney World; 80 percent include travel. We install about 10-15 pools per year,” she said.
“The pool is amazing because it’s something we couldn’t do for her ourselves, and they could,” Campbell said. “I’m happy Make-A-Wish is there to do this. It’s wonderful to have something that makes her so happy and healthier at the same time.”