For most kids, watching cartoons on TV is just part of being a kid. But for Mikayla Weber, spending time in front of the family television nearly cost the four-year-old her life.
The giant scar running down the side of the Melbourne girl’s head is a testament to just how dangerous flatscreen TVs can be.
In January, single mum-of-six Rae Weber was praying for a miracle – her second-youngest child was clinging to life after she was crushed by their flatscreen TV in a freak accident at their home.
Now Rae is telling New Idea her story as a warning to other parents. She was shocked to learn that TV accidents are one of the most common causes of injury in the home as far as toddlers are concerned, and she says next time another child may not be so lucky.
The family’s nightmare began on January 20 when Rae heard a loud crash coming from the bedroom where Mikayla was watching her favourite Little Einsteins show.
‘I rushed in to find that the TV had toppled off the chest of drawers and was laying on top of Mikayla, who was trapped underneath,’ recalls Rae, who’s unsure how the accident occurred.
While Rae thought she’d find only minor cuts on Mikayla’s face, as she and her 12-year-old daughter Jenipher struggled to lift the 30kg TV off Mikayla, she saw blood gushing from the right side of her daughter’s head.
‘Because one of her eyes was open I hadn’t realised she was unconscious or that it was so bad until we lifted the telly off and blood started frothing from her mouth,’ Rae says.
By the time the ambulance arrived, blood was pouring from Mikayla’s nose and right ear and she began vomiting blood.
‘The doctor at the Royal Children’s Hospital said he didn’t know if they could do anything for her,’ Rae explains.
Scans revealed Mikayla had horrific brain injuries and she was rushed to theatre where Dr Wirginia Maixner, the same surgeon who separated conjoined twins Trishna and Krishna, removed part of her skull and a blood clot and repaired the damaged lining of her brain.
‘It was touch and go,’ Rae reveals. ‘Not knowing if she’d survive, we had her baptised.
‘Her face was black and blue and her eyes were badly swollen as she lay in a coma with four skull fractures, a broken nose, fractured cheek bones,
eye sockets and torn neck ligaments and broken bones in the top of her mouth.’
After the operation Mikayla was left with no bone in the right side of
her skull. Her terrified mother was worried that another knock might be fatal, and Mikayla had to wear a protective helmet, which her siblings decorated to encourage her to keep it on.
By the time Mikayla had her second operation to replace the bone in March, she was already learning to walk and talk again.
‘Nobody knows if Mikayla will suffer long-term damage but she’s on a trial to be monitored for hormone damage because brain injuries in children can affect fertility, growth and things like thirst and fluid levels,’ says her mum, who has noticed a definite change in her daughter’s personality since the accident.
‘Mikayla was shy and quiet before, now she’s impulsive and hyperactive and I have to have eyes at the back of my head.’