Johnson City 6-year-old walks again after waking up paralyzed

Beka Koveleski

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Imagine waking up one morning, trying to step out of bed, and you can’t walk.

That was the reality for a six-year-old Johnson City girl last November.

In one day, the paralysis moved all the way up to Beka Koveleski’s neck.

“When she tried to stand up on her feet she fell straight to the floor, and that’s when I knew something else was wrong,” Beka’s mom Regi Koveleski said.

That was on a Tuesday. By Wednesday, Beka’s mom says, “It was up to her arms and in her breathing muscles, she couldn’t scratch her nose at that point.”

Unable to give a diagnosis, local doctors sent her to the children’s hospital in Knoxville.

“What she was capable of doing at eight that morning verses what she was capable of doing at midnight that night was a huge difference and it was scary,” Regi Koveleski said.

“I was just scared. I didn’t understand what was going on,” Beka’s dad Don Koveleski said.

“They didn’t have an automatic name, they didn’t have an automatic treatment plan, it was kind of ‘okay were going to run all these tests and wait and see’ and at the same time you’re watching your baby fade,” Regi Koveleski said.

The Kovaleskis said the rare diagnosis finally came. Doctors diagnosed her with a rare auto-immune disorder, transverse myelitis with a one-third chance Beka would walk again.

“When they give you that kind of prognosis you’re like okay it’s a whole new world to live in,” Regi Koveleski said. “Life was going to be different. She’s been a dancer since she was three and very adamant about her love of ballet and I was just watching all those things fade for her life.”

Doctors immediately started treatment and Beka slowly started to improve.

While her friends were preparing for their next ballet, this 6-year-old was learning to walk again.

After 11 days in the hospital Beka got to go home.

A couple of days later, Beka was supposed to play a part in the Nutcracker.

Still unable to walk, her friends didn’t want her to miss it, and carried her across the stage.

Within a few days, “When we left the hospital they said it may be six months to a year before you see her take her first steps and it wasn’t six days,” Regi Koveleski said.

Beka said she remembers one of the first times she got to walk again.

“When our dog wanted to go out I wanted to take her outside and then I was walking to that door and then I took her outside and then I walked back,” Beka said.

Something that used to be taken for granted her parents now say, “We have a miracle,” Regi Koveleski said.

“When there’s so few who recover at all, to for her to go from being intubated and unable to move anything to being able to almost be back to normal in a month is just miraculous,” Don Koveleski said.

“Beka’s a very determined young lady and she knows what she wants. And she knows what she likes and she doesn’t have any problem telling you about that,” Regi Koveleski said.

Beka’s parents say the road ahead is still unclear.

“There’s still many questions with this disease, there’s no textbook on how this plays out later in life if it comes back if it doesn’t come back, you know leads in to something else. So it’s all a wait and see because it’s so new, so rare, so few documented cases,” Regi Koveleski said.

With no shortage of surprises, this ballerina says she’s planning to use those legs of hers to pursue her dream of becoming a NASCAR driver.

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