Brandon Mebane is one of the most respected voices in the Chargers' locker room, which is why he's been voted a captain every season since he joined the team in 2016.
However, he's been away from the Bolts the last two weeks as Head Coach Anthony Lynn explained that "his leadership is needed somewhere else."
On Wednesday, Mebane returned to Hoag Performance Center, revealing that the personal issue he's been dealing with is the premature birth of his daughter, Makenna, who was also born with trisomy 13, which is a heart defect.
"The thing we were dealing with recently with my daughter was she had developed a stomach infection," he explained. "This sometimes happens when babies come out premature. My daughter, she wasn't supposed to be born until December 16. She came November 12 of this year. She was fine for a couple of weeks, for two weeks, and then she got sick with (her) little stomach intestines. They call it NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis). Basically, the baby swells up and all kinds of things happen. Her blood was low. They had to get her blood counts and all kinds of medicine to help her recover."
Mebane and his wife, Amena, knew back in July that their daughter had the heart condition, and found a hospital that best suited their needs in Omaha, NE. Thus, Amena and their two children, daughter Mahailey and son Makai, have been living in Nebraska throughout the season while Brandon has traveled out to see them each Monday before coming back to Los Angeles on Tuesday nights.
"Basically, what the ultrasound (showed in July was) my daughter has T13," he explained. "T13 is when you're dealing with a heart condition and the baby doesn't have a valve to her heart. (There are) not a whole lot of surgeons in the United States to do surgery on babies, so we had to go to a specialist. There are only like four doctors in the U.S. that do this (certain procedure). One of the doctors is in Omaha, so we had to go out there."
However, the surgery now has to wait a few more months while Makenna recovers from NEC.
"We're going to be there probably until April because she still hasn't had the heart surgery yet," Mebane said. "She's battling the stomach infection with the intestines. So she's been getting MRIs, we've been going on rounds like every day. The doctors there in Omaha, they're excellent. Some great doctors and nurses; they're all great. They treat us really well. They treat all their patients well. They're excellent. We're at a place where they're used to doing these type of things, it's not (anything) really new to them. They know how to handle it. She's making improvement every day. She's looking a whole lot better."
While Makenna is on the road to recovery, it still figures to be a long process. Right now, she's in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) under close supervision.
"It's going to be about two more weeks before (we) start seeing more improvement," he said. "Like I said, every day has been getting better and better. We do rounds every day.… (The doctors) write things down (like), 'We're getting better with this. You need more platelets. She needs more of this. She needs more of that.' (But) it's been getting improvement every day, just (climbing) stair steps. As a parent, you want to see two, three stair steps, but I'll take one every day if that's what it is. I'll take that."
It's clearly been an emotional few months for Mebane, especially the past couple weeks. However, it's also given him a new lease on life as he explained how it's changed him spiritually.
"We're just praying (a lot)," he said. "We thank everybody that's been praying for us. It made me pray even more, and up my relationship with God and talk to him more throughout the day…. Everything has been improving (with Makenna). We have so many people praying for us, man. I believed in the power of prayer then, and I believe in it even more now. It's definitely real."
While it's been an emotional rollercoaster for Mebane, he hopes opening up about his experience will bring much needed attention to the issue.
"(This is) something that made me more aware of talking to God more, praying way more, (and) praying not just at night with my kids, but before we drop them off at school," he said. "Hopefully this'll (raise) awareness and more hospitals will have more doctors that can do these types of surgeries for kids. So hopefully in the future this'll bring more awareness and (these types of surgeries) won't be so novel."