A relative of the two-month old baby who was severely injured in an accident at a softball field earlier this month has informed supporters that the infant has opened her eyes, and that she has started tracking her mother’s face and voice.

Laura Heise, McKenna Hovenga’s great-aunt, also said that the infant did well during a two-hour breathing test on Monday morning.

“McKenna did excellent on her third Spontaneous Breathing Trial and went for the full two hours,” Heise posted on the “Healing for McKenna” Facebook page.

“The word is that they will wait until Wednesday to extubate for a couple of reasons. One, they want to give her time to regain her strength after what happened Saturday [McKenna's latest seizure] and two, they want to see how she does going back to having the phenobarbital every 6 hours instead of 4. They really want to have her as awake as possible, while remaining seizure-free before they attempt extubation.”

Heise said that doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where McKenna has been since May 2, have noticed some darting eye movement when she looks to the right, which could be a result of the injury or a side effect of the anti-seizure medication she is on.

An earlier post indicated that McKenna hadn’t had a seizure since late Saturday, so the family is hopeful that she gains more control over her eye movement as doctors continue to wean her off the medications.


Heise has kept McKenna’s hundreds of thousands of followers updated since tragic accident occurred. McKenna was with her parents at a softball field in Shell Rock, about 95 miles northeast of Des Moines, when an overthrown softball hit her in the head and left her with a skull fracture. She was rushed to a local hospital, and then transferred to the Mayo Clinic.

Doctors have told the family that her recovery will be day-to-day, with earlier scans indicating a possibility of “significant” damage in at least one area of her brain. Heise’s most recent post expressed optimism for McKenna’s recovery.

“She is making some great strides and is coming back to us more and more as each day passes. And for that we could not be more grateful,” she wrote.

On Sunday, Heise said that McKenna began having bowel movements and was moving her legs “quite a bit,” with her eyes wide open.

The infant’s recovery has been tracked by supporters all over the world, with cards, toys and blankets from well-wishers filling her hospital room. A YouCaring page was set up to help the family cover any associated costs.