Room for 1 More: Family with 9 Children Adopts Baby Fighting for Her Life

LEESVILLE, La. -- A baby girl started her life with little hope for a future.

But then doctors at Children's Hospital and a complete stranger - who some call an angel - stepped in.

Now, she's experiencing Christmas like never before.

This will be a most special Christmas for Keona Mock and her newly adoptive family - it's one that many never expected would happen. 

Keona was first abused in the womb, born to biological parents addicted to a variety of illegal drugs. And then at the tiny age of one month, she came into Children's Hospital in a coma: her brain was bleeding, with broken legs and ribs - the victim of abuse. A breathing tube down her throat and hooked to a ventilator was her lifeline that day. 

 "They didn't know if she was going to live or die, but you see today that she is very much alive," Tammy Mock said.

At her home in Leesville, Louisiana, Mock had a premonition that little girl was waiting for her in need. She and her husband, retired from the Army, already had seven children between them and had already taken in 14 foster children - two have stayed. They didn't know Keona would be the third foster child to find a forever home with them. Then came a phone call. 

"The state called and said we have a very fragile baby with very extensive medical needs - and so I said yes," Mock said.

It was a long journey from Leesville, four-and-a-half hours to Children's Hospital in New Orleans and a long two-year medical journey of procedures for Keona to get well. The breathing tube that saved Keona's life as an infant made scar tissue in her tiny airway so doctors had to give her a tracheostomy, a hole in her neck with a tube so she could breathe. 

"It's pretty intense for a family to have a tracheostomy in a child. It's like you're right on the edge every day, every minute, every second of your life - so the mom couldn't leave Keona for a second," Dr. Sohit  Kanotra said.

If it fell out Keona could not breathe, but with it, she could never talk. As the nearly two years went by, Kanotra, an LSU health otolaryngologist, performed a delicate surgery opening up the scarred windpipe with pieces of her rib cartilage molded to her exact size.

"That's the hardest part of the whole surgery is getting it to perfection because an airway you don't have any, any, work room. You have to be perfect," Kanotra said.

After weeks of healing, Keona got a speaking valve and everyone could hear her voice for the first time. Even Keona was stunned that she had a voice.

"She's never said 'hi' before and that video really takes my breath away,"

"It was amazing it was so strong and just the excitement and the thrill of hearing her voice was just unbelievable," Mock said.

"Keona where's your trach? Bye bye trach. Bye-bye. Trach gone? Yeah," Mock said.

And now today two Christmas presents - the trach is gone and the mock family got permanent custody of Keona. 

"And that was the biggest blessing - and reward we could ever get - because she has changed our lives," Mock said.

"I actually relate the whole success of this complex procedure to mom's care, I think the foster mom has been just an angel I call her an angel. She's known by an angel in this hospital because she's taken care of this baby like, like I've never seen before," Kanotra said.

"It's our calling, it's what God called us to do. Not only have we touched their lives but they have touched our lives so much more," Mock said.

So yes, Keona, there is a Santa Claus, and angels too. 


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