McKenna Hovenga was injured when she was hit in the head by an errant softball

By Jason Duaine Hahn
May 22, 2018 03:09 PM
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McKenna Hovenga — an infant who was injured when she was hit in the head by an errant softball — is now showing signs of improvement, 20 days after the incident occurred, the family says.

Kassy Hovenga and her daughter, McKenna, were in the stands at an Iowa baseball field on May 2 as they waited to watch her husband, Lee Hovenga, play in a recreational softball game when the ball hit them, according to a Facebook page created by relatives of the family.

McKenna, who was only 7 weeks old at the time, was immediately taken to nearby Waverly Health Center in Waverly, Iowa, and later flown to St. Mary’s Hospital at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Once there, doctors feared the baby could have brain damage.

In the time since, McKenna has suffered a flurry of seizures that doctors fought to get under control through dimming the lights in her room and limiting the amount of times she is touched, among other things. She was also placed on a ventilator and in a “deep coma” as she healed.

Thankfully, McKenna has endured.

According to the family’s Facebook page, Healing For McKenna, the infant is now opening her eyes and following her mother’s movement — a significant improvement from just a few weeks ago.

“She definitely has more awake periods and her eyes are wide open,” Laura Heise, a relative of McKenna, wrote on the page. “She tracks Kassy’s face and voice.”

Still, doctors are still concerned about the lack of control McKenna has over some of her eye movement.

“As McKenna looks to her right, her eyes make some darting movements upward and towards the side,” Heise wrote. “However, she does not do this when she looks to her left.”

This could be caused by the injury to McKenna’s brain, or it could be a side effect of her anti-seizure medication. The medical staff is now working to reduce her medication to track the changes in her symptoms, according to Healing For McKenna.

McKenna Hovenga
Healing for McKenna/Facebook

Doctors have also placed McKenna in three spontaneous breathing trials to have her adjust to breathing without the aid of a ventilator. The last trial lasted a full two hours, but since McKenna experienced a seizure over the weekend, doctors are waiting to remove her ventilator tube until later this week, according to the Facebook group.

In an update on Sunday, the family also said McKenna is moving her legs and having bowel movements.

The family has set up a YouCaring donation page to help with McKenna’s medical care. As of Tuesday, supporters on the page have already raised much of their $75,000 goal, which the family said will only go toward McKenna’s present and future medical expenses.

Lee and Kassy Hovenga
Healing For McKenna

In a statement to PEOPLE, Kassy and Lee said they are thankful for the generosity that has come their way from strangers across the country since McKenna’s hospitalization.

“We are so thankful and deeply moved by the generous support and the uplifting messages that we are receiving from friends, family and those we do not know, but now consider our friends,” they said. “At this time, we are uncertain what the outcome of this will be. We have to take everything that is happening hour by hour.”

The couple continues to have faith that their little one will make it through.

“Her status is constantly changing,” Kassy and Lee said in the statement to PEOPLE. “Our little McKenna is a fighter, and we are hopeful she will continue to fight to overcome this.”