Mishawaka boy stays strong while battling health problems


Imagine undergoing more than 20 surgeries - all by the age of ten.

That's the reality for little Michael Yeakey, Jr. of Mishawaka.

A few years ago, doctors discovered Michael had a tethered spinal cord, meaning the end of his spinal cord did not develop properly and got attached to surrounding tissues. Doctors fixed his spine, but Michael still has a lot of health problems.

Michael is just like any other 10-year-old. He loves sports.

"I do bowling, I like baseball, football," he said.

But unlike other kids, Michael has spent a lot of time in the hospital.

"Sometimes, we feel like it's one thing after another. Sometimes, we feel very overwhelmed," Shannon Yeakey, Michael's mother, said.

When Michael was just a year old, his parents noticed he couldn't urinate. Soon after, doctors at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis discovered he had a neurogenic bladder.

"Very horrible, it's something that we're hopeful that one day they'll find a way for him to be able to go again on his own, but right now we just take it one day at a time," Shannon said.

An abnormality of the spine caused Michael's bladder problems. He has undergone multiple surgeries at Riley. His spine is fine now, but the problem may return. Meantime, Michael needs a catheter and to make matters worse, he also has kidney problems. Right now, doctors say his kidneys are functioning at less than 70%. If they get down to less than 30%, he'll need dialysis.

"We feel like we get hit with many obstacles and sometimes we feel it's very challenging because we feel like once get a step ahead, we take two steps back with all his health issues," Shannon said.

But Michael's parents say the doctors and staff at Riley have been supportive and caring.

"They're just a great place and they make you feel at home when you're down there," Michael Yeakey Sr., Michael's father, said.

"They bring like an iPad for you to play when you do procedures so don't get scared from the procedure you can just play," Michael said.

And now that Michael is back home, he's living the life of a normal kid and not letting his health problems hold him back.

Riley Hospital has actually sent Michael and his family on golf outings and to sporting events. In fact, this weekend they're going to see a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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