PANOLA COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – An East Texas community is coming together to help a little girl living with a life-threatening medical condition.
10-year-old Carlie Rae loves swimming, riding her bike and having fun. She was born with a Chiari malformation, a genetic condition where her brain is too big for her skull.
The condition causes her brain to grow down into her spine, causing problems like preventing her from breathing properly at night.
“She had headaches and vomiting everyday for about 4 years and finally they did an MRI,” Carlie’s mom, Jamie Douglas, said.
While there is no known cure for the condition, a procedure to help her includes removing part of her skull, which should give her brain room to grow normally.
On July 19, Carlie will undergo surgery for it– the second attempt after the first surgery failed.
“Her skull grew back 100% which is extremely rare,” Jamie said. “Like in the 30 years that the doctor has performed the surgery, he had not had a patient that it had grown back until her.”
The surgery left her with a scar, or as Carlie calls it, her zipper.
“It hurt very little, I could not look up or any way I could only look down and it took like two months to heal,” Carlie said.
Now, with the help of their Lake Murvaul neighbors, Carlie is raising money in hopes of making a difference for others living with her condition.
Their community has put on fundraisers to help Carlie pay for her surgeries and fund research at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
“Everybody just loves her and she just goes up to them, she sees them pulling up and she just runs out there and greets them,” Jamie said. “They’ve just been our second family.”
Her family says they are praying her second operation will go smoothly. If the surgery is successful, her mother said she will go on to live a normal happy life and wouldn’t need another surgery for a long time.
The next fundraising event will be a benefit bass tournament on July 10. Their goal is to raise $2,000. So far, they’ve raised about $700.