When it came time for her 4K class Career Day, it wasn’t hard for Kynslee Bethea to decide which field she wanted to represent. She has been a patient at Children’s of Alabama since she was an infant and now wants to be just like her doctors, surgeons and nurses when she “gets big.”
Kynslee was born at a hospital in south Alabama in August 2016 and was transferred to local hospital’s NICU for feeding assistance. Doctors there discovered that her hips were dislocated, leading to three months in a sling cast and eventually a spica cast.
In November 2016, Kynslee had her first of numerous surgeries and procedures at Children’s. At 3 months old, the day after her spica cast was removed, she had her first cleft-related surgery with Dr. John Grant as well as ear tube placement. During her toddler years, she had two MRIs and a CT scan at Children’s so doctors could monitor her progress and growth. In December 2019, oral surgeon Dr. Peter Waite operated on Kynslee’s premaxilla (part of the upper jaw). She had another dental surgery at Children’s in May 2020. And during a brain surgery in January 2021, Dr. Grant found a dermoid cyst attached to her dura, the outer shell/layer of the brain.
“Her brain surgery was probably the hardest one as far as emotions go. Recovery was hard as well,” said Kynslee’s mom Britney Bethea. But Britney said she works hard not to show her fear to Kynslee. “Honestly, she is my backbone. She is the reason all this is somewhat ‘easy.’ She keeps my head up. She is seriously the toughest human I know.”
Britney credits her family’s faith for getting them through the hard times. “We come from a praying family, and I have to say, I don't think we would be where we are today if it weren’t for their many, many prayers. All the appointments at first were really stressful and scary, but we are super thankful for our family and friends for being there for us and helping us navigate through that part.”
Kynslee only visits Children’s once a year now, Britney said. “She actually gets excited when we have to go to Children’s. Of course she will ask a ton of questions, but to be so little, she is so smart and doesn't forget a thing and even will question the doctors and nurses. She does have anxiety once we arrive, but she warms up quickly. The staff all make it a great experience for us.”
“It is an honor to have families trust us with their children and a real pleasure to watch the kids develop over the years as we follow them through multiple procedures,” Dr. Grant said.
It’s no surprise that Kynslee has her sights set on a future in healthcare. “Kynslee got her own little doctors’ office and patient bed for Christmas. My mom found Kynslee a pair of child-sized scrubs, and she loves pretending. She is constantly in her room working on her baby dolls and checking their vitals and writing on her little note pad. She remembers step by step from what the nurses do at Children’s and brings it back home with her to her doctor’s office in her play room,” Britney said.
And when she’s taking a break from tending to her baby dolls, you’ll probably find Kynslee enjoying any of the other things she loves – being outdoors, shopping, playing with friends and going to school.