Coronavirus Updates – Neshoba General Hospital Reputable, up-to-date information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Click here to Visit the CDC site. - Click Here to Visit the MSDH site.

Skye Mingo defies the odds with her camera

Skye Mingo defies the odds with her camera

Twenty-year-old Skye Mingo has faced numerous challenges in her medical journey by overcoming cancer and heart surgeries, all the while illuminating her path through the lens of her passion for photography.

Born at Gallup Indian Health Service Hospital in Gallup, New Mexico, Mingo’s life took an unexpected turn when her mother, Raschelle Raker, went in for a well-baby check and her doctors discovered a heart defect.

Skye was med-flighted to a hospital in Albuquerque, where she was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and was later med-flighted again this time to Denver Children’s Hospital and underwent two open-heart surgeries over the course of three months.

After surgeries, she and her mother moved to Philadelphia and the late Tribal Chief Phillip Martin, provided emergency Level C housing for them, ensuring Skye's access to the necessary medical care. Shortly afterward, her dad, David R. Mingo of the Tucker Community, moved back with them during this time.

Upon arriving here, she started seeing a cardiologist at UMMC who referred them to Arkansas Children’s Hospital where she received a heart transplant in December 2005.

Although her first-year post-transplant went well, She faced challenges, including an ischemic stroke in 2007 that required a year of occupational and physical therapy, and around first grade she was diagnosed with lymphoma linked to transplants, resulting in homeschooling the following year due to her weakened immune system.

Mingo’s cancer went into remission after three months of chemotherapy, but then around seventh grade she had reoccurring partial seizures which led to grand mal seizures that she still deals with today.

Lymphoma and epilepsy have forever scarred her academic journey. However, she is on the brink of graduation as she finishes her remaining geometry and algebra classes through online schooling at Choctaw Central.

Despite the massive hurdles, Mingo’s heart is now healthier than ever. She shows resilience and determination as she manages her epilepsy by working with a neurology team in Jackson.

“Skye has suffered a lot,” Raker said. “She’s kept a good attitude, she’s kind, and she’s everything you would want in a daughter. Watching Skye persevere, watching her courage, and watching her face pain has changed me as a person.”

Skye's passion for photography has blossomed over the years. Inspired by her dad’s love for both photography and painting, she started by capturing images of butterflies, lizards, and any intriguing creatures inhabiting her backyard.

“I really like taking pictures of my pets,” she said. “I have six cats and two dogs.”

Her knack for arranging floral backdrops for her pet photos has even received attention with several likes and positive feedback across her social media posts.

While exploring zoos like the one in Little Rock, Arkansas with her family, Skye’s skill not only shows with her Kodak Az528 camera but also through photos taken with her phone that are unedited and not enhanced with apps like Photoshop.

Dr. Julia Riley of Neshoba General’s Pediatric Clinic recognized Skye's talent while getting to know her during clinic visits and came up with the idea to decorate every patient exam room with two pieces of Skye's artwork.

These vibrant photographs, featuring everything from a baby orangutan, lions, and alligators to her beloved pets, radiate positivity and joy.

“I was really surprised when I came in here, and I was so happy to see all my photographs, especially the one of the baby orangutang and of my cat and my dog,” she said. “Taking photographs has made me stay positive, because sometimes when I’m scared or afraid I think of how much I love doing photography and how much it means to me.”

Influenced by Joel Sartore, a National Geographic photographer of endangered species, her dreams of traveling across the United States to capture the beauty of national parks once her seizures subside. She also wants to attend a college with a photography program after high school.

“Even when things are hard, you still have to find something you have a purpose for,” she said.

Skye aims to convey a sense of purpose, joy, and happiness as the central themes throughout all her photographs.

“The thing that I noticed as her mom is that she has a wonderful eye for composition,” Raker said. “Skye takes pictures every day in the afternoon unless she’s feeling bad. She goes out to the yard and takes pictures of the moon, the sunsets, the dogs, or whatever flower is growing in the ground. She just gets better and better.”

In addition to her art, Skye has recently been making bracelets for fellow young patients to grab from a wagon during her children’s hospital visits. This act alone reflects her compassionate nature and ability to inspire others as she navigates life with purpose and a camera in hand.