Missoula residents Kristine and Rick Larson are giving thanks early this year.
Thanks to the Missoula community, the Internet and a Texas doctor, their 8-year-old daughter Mikaslyn underwent and is recovering from a life-altering, lifesaving hip surgery.
"We are really happy with how everything came together, and the surgeon is really happy with how the surgery went," said Rick Larson, Mikaslyn's father. "He told us she now has a good functional hip."
Mikaslyn was born with a disabling neuromuscular disorder, which among many afflictions has resulted in a weak skeletal system that keeps her confined to a wheelchair. During the past year, Mikaslyn's doctors learned that she was in chronic pain because one of her legs had slipped out of the hip socket.
Because the girl's Montana Medicaid wouldn't cover the cost of the surgery, and the family didn't have the means to pay for it out of pocket, the Larsons had to look for assistance elsewhere.
Last week, people from western Montana and around the world donated more than $27,000 to Mikaslyn's cause after her story was told in the Missoulian.
The 11th-hour gift from strangers provided the necessary funding for the Larsons to take Mikaslyn to Texas and have the necessary surgery on Tuesday at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"Right now she is in a lot of pain from the surgery, but today was the day the medical team expected the pain to peak and we just pray that it goes away quickly," Larson said Thursday. "Since we were told to expect that, we aren't too concerned."
Mikaslyn is expected to be released from the hospital in the next few weeks. Because she will be in a body cast and need some ongoing outpatient care, the Larsons will stay in Galveston for two months while their daughter recovers and heals enough to travel home to Missoula without pain.
"We feel so amazingly blessed and thankful that we live in Missoula," Larson said. "None of this would have been possible without this kind of support we received from people who read the story.
"We are just blown away by how wonderful people are and the doors of possibility have blown open for Mikaslyn."