Brighter smiles await after latest surgery

Meeka Rowat has undergone 11 surgeries in her young life as she struggles with multiple health issues

Meeka Rowat

Meeka Rowat

Meeka Rowat, a Coldstream teen, has already undergone 11 surgeries in her young life as she struggles with multiple health issues. And now she is hoping her next surgery will allow her to not only reduce the pain of eating due to her small jaw, but will give a brighter smile.

The 18-year-old is scheduled for surgery Jan. 27 on her upper and lower jaw and chin in Vancouver. But the costs have left her mom feeling overwhelmed.

“Government won’t pay for (the surgery) even though she was born this way,” said Wendy Niemi, the single mom who does not have any extended health benefits.

Meeka, who is attending Okanagan College, was born with several special needs, which include hearing loss, Turner and Goldenhar Syndrome, microtia/artesia, no ear canals, small jaw, palsy, severe nickel allergy, asthma, heart defect, scoliosis and more.

“Meeka is a well mannered, sensitive, fun and caring young lady with a huge heart,” said Niemi of her daughter who loves to go to the movies, enjoys the arts, singing, dancing, cuddling her pets and spending time with her sister Ceanna. “Meeka has a beautiful voice and loves to sing and says it gives her release of dealing with her daily challenges.”

The upcoming surgery will allow her to enjoy some of the simpler aspects of life, like eating.

“You can’t chew very good when you don’t have the jaw aligned,” said Niemi. “So this is to help her bite…it’s one of the more major ones (surgeries).

“Meeka is hoping that when this surgery is complete she will be able to eat property, with a new bite, without so much pain and discomfort, along with a straighter smile.”

But with a $6,400 pricetag for the surgery, the family is feeling a little overwhelmed.

Therefore they are hoping the community can help by coming out to a family-friendly fundraising dinner Saturday, Jan. 24 at Alexanders Beach Pub.

They are also seeking donations of silent auction items for the event, which goes from 5 to 9 p.m. and includes 50/50 and a performance by Aloha Polynesian dancers at 8 p.m.

Anyone with donations can drop them off at 11700 Coldstream Creek Road or call Niemi at 250-541-0499 or emaila galsix_