Kacy & Mikayla Stoner

Kacy and Mikayla were born at 28 weeks, each weighing just three pounds.

Laura and Kyle Stoner prepared their 2-year-old, Haylee, to be a big sister to the twin girls they were expecting. They knew that a family of three would change their lives, but they had no idea what an impact these babies were about to make.

Kacy and Mikayla were born at 28 weeks, each weighing just three pounds. Despite their tiny size and early arrival, the girls seemed healthy at first. Two days later, however, brain scans revealed extensive damage in their brains. The girls were both diagnosed with severe bilateral and cystic periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), a brain injury in premature infants that can cause developmental and physical delays.

The Stoners’ lives were instantly turned upside down. “The first three months were all about the unknown,” Laura says. I was living at the hospital, spending every waking moment with my baby girls, while Kyle was working, taking care of our home, and bringing Haylee to the hospital every chance he could get.”

Then, they received the prognosis: Kacy would have cerebral palsy and be challenged to do everything most people take for granted. Mikayla, along with having PVL, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the cavities (ventricles) deep within the brain. The buildup of fluid puts pressure on the brain, which can damage tissue and cause impairments in brain function. The doctors could not promise much of a future for the girls.

Faced with this news, Laura and Kyle decided to see neurosurgeon Dr. Hal Meltzer at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. And he gave them just what they needed: hope.“Dr. Meltzer opened our eyes to new possibilities with both of our girls,” Laura says.

The girls would have numerous surgeries – nearly 50 between the two of them – which included hip, dental and eye surgeries, and 15 brain surgeries for Mikalya. And for five years, they would have intensive speech, vision, and occupational and physical therapy.

Kyle and Laura describe this time as “a huge blur,” but they were getting through it, with a physician they trusted. “We were surviving the only way we knew how: together,” Laura says.

The treatment helped, so well that Dr. Meltzer describes the twins as “miracle girls.” “They represent the achievements that are possible at a special place like Rady Children's,” he notes.

The girls, now 8, are leading active lives. Despite being in wheelchairs, they are avid horseback riders, star hitters on a baseball team, and surf, dance and love the water. Laura describes Kacy as “truly capable of doing anything she desires” and Miklaya as “nonverbal but communicates with her eyes or the huge smile that she almost always wears.”

Haylee, now 10, took on the role of a second mom. “She sees a mom struggling with her child and immediately steps in to help,” Laura says. “She invents games where her sisters are the stars. She just makes the world a brighter place.”

Both Kacy and Miklaya have been surgery-free for two years but still come to Rady Children’s once a week for occupational and physical therapy. They are excited to come, as they get to pick out toys or take something from the treasure chest.

Laura and Kyle feel truly blessed to have their three wonderful girls. And they are grateful for all that Rady Children’s has done for their family.

“We would do anything for Rady Children’s Hospital,” Laura says. They gave us hope and have helped us discover a life we never thought possible. We were amazed at how compassionate and supportive everyone is. Whether you’re here monthly, once a year, or one time in your life - this is a family, this is a community. There is an abundance of love here.”

To give back to the Hospital, the twins have participated in Rady Children’s Radiothon, an annual fundraising event.  “They loved it because they felt like stars,” Laura says.