Her mother calls her a miracle child. Anihya Mobley was born a quadriplegic after a rare congenital defect in her neck and spine immobilized the little girl's arms and legs.
Anihya spent the first 15 months of her life wearing a full body cast. Her mom believes the slightest move in the wrong direction could have killed her.
"I know her neck bone wasn't all the way developed, and her spine wasn't fully developed. She was just in her cast and we had to keep it on her 24 hours a day," Brandi Tunstall, Anihya's mother, recalled as she waited at the school bus stop for her now 6-year-old child to be dropped off.
Anihya's doctor at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg faced a tall challenge. How do you operate on a child so small and so delicate without doing further damage and risk her life?
"That was the main complicating problem with her," Dr. Luis Rodrigues explained. "She was so young and so small and all the hardware we use for this operation is designed for adults."
So, Dr. Rodrigues worked with the surgical equipment company to fashion one-of-a-kind screws and rods to help repair Anihya's neck and spine.
A series of four tiny screws and metals rods were used to pull back her neck to decompress Anihya's spinal cord. Then bone was used to fuse her vertebrae.
The groundbreaking surgery worked.
Now, Anihya can bound off the school bus on her own into the loving embrace of her parents.
"She's very independent. She really doesn't like anybody to help her," Brandi said as they walked back to their Winter Haven home.
Anihya moves around freely now, learning and growing. She's a very active little girl with a big, bright smile.
Unfortunately, Anihya will always have trouble with balance and coordination. She was also born with cerebral palsy. But, now that Anihya is no longer paralyzed, she can happily play outdoors with her brother and sister.
"She's a blessing. She's my little miracle," Brandi said as the kids huddled around her.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?