The condition is called Microcephaly (micro-sef-uh-lee), and according to the Foundation for Children with Microcephaly, it affects up to two and a half percent of the world's population. Microcephaly is a neurological disorder where the head circumference is less than it should be. 19 month old Zayden Rayl of Versailles can't walk or talk, but his parents hope his story will speak volumes about a condition that's killing children.
....and a way man's best friend could help.
Heidi and Kyle Rayl had hoped their son would grow up to play football, but at just 19 months old, Zayden is fighting for his life. With limited vision and stiff muscles, even simple movements can be difficult for Zayden's small brain. "They said he'd never read, write, walk or talk, and they said we'd be blessed if he lived to be two," Heidi Rayl said from their Versailles home. "We're almost 19 months so we're going to prove them wrong. "
Less than two years old, Zayden's already suffered hundreds of seizures. Sometimes, they occur several times a week. With his seizures, Zayden can stop breathing and his parents have to resuscitate him.
"Microcephaly affects more children than Autism, but it doesn't have the awareness. No one knows about it, " said Heidi Rayl. "For the kiddos who are very sick, it's noticeable. For some kiddos, all you notice is a small head because 'Microcephaly' all that means is small head. "
Zayden is learning to walk with a walker. His tiny steps are huge strides, but each seizure can be a step backward. Zayden's parents never know when they're coming. The Rayls are hoping "Gru", a 12 week old old yellow lab, can be the warning that will alert them when Zayden is seizing, precious time that will allow them to start oxygen earlier.
Selling bracelets, the Versailles community managed to raise enough money for a down payment on Gru. The dog recently came to live in Versailles and has already alerted the family to one of Zayden's seizures. But if the Rayls can't raise enough money for Gru's additional training in Colorado, Zayden's mom says they might not be able to keep him.
"No matter what the future holds. No matter what happens. He was perfect for us."
Zayden's mom says any excess funds raised will go to the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation to help other kids like Zayden get their own life saving friends.