CMN Miracle Kids: Tabitha and Hannah Keaty

CMN Miracle Kids: Tabitha and Hannah Keaty
Tabitha and Hannah Keaty
Tabitha and Hannah Keaty

As a parent, it can take a toll managing one child's chronic illness, but for the Keaty family, keeping up with not one, but two has become what they call their "new normal."

Both girls, 17-year-old Tabitha and her 16-year-old sister Hannah are an inspiration. Their positivity in life is a true testament to their faith.

Not only are the sisters connected by a deep friendship, they're also connected by an illness known as Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobile Syndrome.

Tabitha was diagnosed at 15-years-old and Hannah when she was 14.

Ehlers is a genetic auto immune connective tissue disorder. So, how does that affect their passion with dance?

It hasn't stopped them at all.

Unfamiliar to Ehlers, dad, Tom Keaty, said he was fearful.

"I was stricken with fear, because I didn't know what I was dealing with," Tom said.

An incurable disorder of loose or unstable joints and ligaments that can easily tear which makes the girls more prone to frequent dislocations of bones.

"I stubbed my toe one day and I tore ligaments and joints all the way through my toe and up my leg," Tabitha said.

But, weight training every week allows Tabitha to build muscle so it can help compensate for her weak joints and ligaments.

Hannah has the same problem but also faces a more serious illness.

Hannah's pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Robert Simek, said she was feeling very ill and lost several pounds of weight.

"Sure enough, she had the classic findings of Crohns disease," Dr. Simek said.

Hannah said she was so glad to finally find out her diagnosis.

"Its an auto-immune disease where my body basically fights itself and thinks my stomach is, basically a bad cell and so, it makes my stomach and intestines inflamed," Hannah said.

"So that puts me automatically in a state where I have to have medicine and get treated constantly, because it's unpredictable and there is no cure," Hannah said.

Dr. Simek said after one type of medication didn't work, they were able to start blood infusions.

"The best decision for her was that we'd start an IV medication that is given here in the cancer center," Dr. Simek said.

Not just a one-time treatment, but has to go every six weeks for the rest of her life.

Hannah loves being at school and speaks so highly of her teachers. She is in International Baccalaureate at Lubbock High School.

Graduating with high honors last week, Tabitha is moving on to Texas Tech University.

"Actually majoring in physical therapy just because I've been in physical therapy for about four years straight and so I've just gained so much interest there and being on both sides of the spectrum," Tabitha said. "I'd love to help someone in ways I can relate."

Both have such a deep passion for dance and rely on each other.

"There are little things that we get annoyed about, but then we're like we freaking love each other, why are we going to fight. So, I don't know, I think we've matured," Tabitha said. We're seriously best friends. I don't know what I'd do without this one."

Keeping a positive attitude is something they both demonstrate on a daily basis.

"Whenever we get to a point where it's out of our control, there's no reason for us to be held back with it," Hannah said. "We have to pursue our life and keep it going the best way we can."

Something their mom, Apryl Keaty, is so proud of.

"When I grow big, I want to be just like them," Apryl said.

"If I were to meet them on the street and not know them, I would think they were two pretty amazing young women," Apryl said.

For both girls, the family says UMC and Children's Miracle Network has helped them learn how to manage and keep their life-long illnesses under control.

"Children's Miracle Network, both, the nurses and doctors that I've had interactions with, absolutely amazing," Tom said.

"They are such an incredible organization," Hannah said. "They provide so much hope and light."

"I don't think we were ever let down at UMC, once," Tabitha said.

"Very dedicated and loyal," Apryl said. "Very compassionate to what they do."

"We are not defined by what we have, but what we are and what we do with it," Hannah said.

"And we're always here for each other" Tabitha said.

"Always and forever," Hannah said.

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