'We feel really blessed that she does get to walk': OK toddler born with spinal defect becomes real-life Forrest Gump

OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR)- About two years ago, a Midwest City family was given the news their newborn would have a spinal defect and that she may never be able to walk, but now their daughter is running, climbing, and swinging.

“We thought on diagnosis day three years ago that our world was going to be flipped upside down,” said Megan Kershaw.

Her husband, Robert, told KFOR doctors informed them their daughter would be born with spina bifida.

Spina bifida is a spinal deformity that develops while in utero where the spinal cord doesn’t form properly.

“That can cause damage to the nerves, lower extremity weakness, and sometimes core weakness,” said an Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health Physical Therapist Assistant, Daryn Wauters.

Robert said they were told six in 10 babies diagnosed with spina bifida are aborted.

“It was pretty tough to hear that right out of the gate,” added Robert. “It was pretty scary.”

Their now two-year-old daughter, Millie and Megan underwent a surgery before Millie was born to help repair her spine while still in utero.

“It was the most terrifying experience of my life,” said Megan.

Once Millie was born, her family told KFOR they were determined to get her on her feet and walking.

Millie went through physical therapy for one year with a different facility before transferring to the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health.

Wauters is a part of Millie’s physical therapy team.

She has now spent about a year with a physical therapy team there.

“She’s just been progressing so well that we graduated out of physical therapy. So now she’s just, you know, walking and playing like a normal kid,” said Megan.

When Megan and Robert first saw Millie walk, they said they were all so excited that even some tears were shed.

“We feel really blessed that, you know, she does get to walk,” said Megan.

Millie’s physical therapy team is just as excited.

“That’s why I do my job. I always say that I have one of the best jobs in the world because I get to meet some of the most amazing kids and families and support them and help their kids reach, you know, the highest level of function that they can and that’s really rewarding,” said Wauters. “It just makes my heart so happy. I fall in love with these kids and their families. And so when they reach those goals and I see their parents excited about that and for their child, being a mom myself, I know that they’re excited to see that and that just makes me happy.”

Robert remembers when Millie broke out of her first pair of braces, saying it reminded him of the movie Forrest Gump.

“I think that the next thing is for her to run out of these [Millie’s current braces], just like she did her first pair of braces. It was kind of cool, kind of like in the movie Forrest Gump, when he runs, the braces break off. I kind of picture that is kind of what she did,” explained Robert.

Before officially graduating from physical therapy, Wauters said there are a few more milestones to hit.

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“We’re just perfecting her balance and walking. She’s walking, running, but still kind of going over different, you know, surfaces. We’re just trying to perfect that so she can run and keep up with her siblings and her peers,” said Wauters.

Megan told KFOR when Millie is five or six, she’ll undergo another surgery but this time for her legs.

The surgery is aimed at helping straighten Millie’s legs.

In the meantime, Megan and Robert said they’ll continue living their normal lives while loving their three kids unconditionally.

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