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Kosair patients get helping hand from Corydon girl

Kosair patients get helping hand from Corydon girl
Kosair patients get helping hand from Corydon girl
Mekinley Elrod sits with a number of the pillows she made to be delivered to ill children at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville. Photo by Ross Schulz

If anyone knows what it’s like to spend an extended amount of time at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, again and again, it’s Mekinley Elrod.
A fifth-grader at Corydon Intermediate School, she has spent countless days and weeks in the hospital throughout her life, beginning shortly after she was born.
The knowledge of what it’s like to be at Kosair, plus a quest to do something for others and make children feel better, led to the creation of 71 pillows, through ‘Kinley’s Helping Hands,’ for children at Kosair.
With the help of her mother, Danielle Barley, and others, Mekinley hopes Helping Hands can become an organization that grows each year.
Next year, along with pillows, Mekinley plans to provide blankets and teddy bears for the children.
‘It’ll be a lot of work, but it’s going to be worth it,’ Barley said.
The pillows, which took about an hour to an hour and a half each to make, were delivered to Kosair on Monday.
‘She wants to bring a smile to the kids’ faces and help them out,’ Barley said.
The pillows, many of which include monster faces and arms, are bright in color and vary in size.
Not a year has gone by that Mekinley hasn’t spent time at Kosair or in the emergency room.
Mekinley’s parents had no reason to think anything was wrong with their newborn child when they brought her home, but, only after eight hours, they had to rush her to Kosair.
‘She had a body temperature of only 96 degrees, she was not eating and her eyes were rolling back into her head,’ her mother said. ‘They took her from us and did a spinal tap. Then they allowed us into the room, where they tested her blood sugars and the reading only registered a 3. The doctors and nurses could not believe what they had just saw. I happened to look over, and she was turning blue when we were rushed out of the trauma room and stuck into a small room with a chaplain. We started to pray and pray hard.’
A short time later, they were able to see their baby, but she was not in any condition they expected.
‘She had IVs, different machines and a ventilator keeping her alive,’ Barley said. ‘We were told that they did not know what was going on with her.’
After a few surgeries and setbacks, including at least one occasion where her parents thought they were saying goodbye to their daughter for the last time, Mekinley was diagnosed with Panhypopituarism, which means she was born without a pituitary gland in her brain.
‘Her body does not produce hormones, adrenaline and also she had a hard time maintaining sugars when her body is under stress,’ Barley said.
Lately, Mekinley has been doing well. An infection caused her to have a short stay in the hospital last month.
‘With all the hospitalizations she has had, she makes friends with everyone throughout the hospital,’ Barley said. ‘She always continues to smile and put on a brave face no matter what she has to endure.
‘Mekinley has the most caring and loving heart,’ she said. ‘Her mission is to help other kids in the hospital, by raising money to provide comforts of home and smiles when they are hospitalized.’
For more information about Mekinley or to donate to her cause, visit the Facebook page ‘Kinley’s Helping Hands.’ Messages can be written to her there also.