Mackenzie Parkes

Mackenzie's Miracle Life

When expectant parents Rachael and Dustyn were having their 24-week baby scan they received the news every parent fears.  Their baby was going to be born with serious heart issues. 

The doctors sat Mackenzie’s mum and dad down and told them their options. They could terminate or if they wanted to continue with the pregnancy their baby daughter would need surgery almost immediately after birth.

The scans showed Mackenzie had an Interrupted Aortic Arch, a Ventricular Septum Defect, an Atrial Septum Defect and an Hypoplastic Aortic Valve. “The main life-threatening issue once born,” mum Rachael explains, “was the Interrupted Aortic Arch.  In laypersons terms it meant there would be no blood flow to her lower organs such as her stomach, liver, kidneys or even her legs!”

For the Parkes, there was no question they would give Mackenzie a fighting chance.  In February 2010 Mackenzie was born, naturally and as healthy as expected given her condition.  

“It was a really difficult time.  She wasn’t allowed anything to eat until after the surgery and the doctors were confident it was safe to allow food in her stomach.”

With a lack of blood flow to the stomach there is a danger of infection, so tiny Mackenzie’s life had to be sustained by a glucose solution via an umbilical catheter.

After five long days, little Mackenzie Parkes underwent her first open heart surgery.  The surgical team were able to repair most of the damaged organ, with exception to the Aortic Valve.  They decided to monitor her for the next few months or years, to see how things developed.  Mackenzie and her family stayed in hospital moving between PICU and the Heart Kids Ward 23B a couple of times as there were a few little hiccups during her recovery.

Rachael says Mackenzie's progress since surgery has been excellent, with the minimum of complications. However, two years ago, specialists discovered a sub-aortic stenosis, which had grown up into Mackenzie’s Aortic Valve. There is also slight back flow with her aortic valve as well giving her a very pronounced murmur. Rachael says it’s so pronounced, that even to the untrained ear, you can hear the whooshing without a stethoscope. “Mackenzie loves showing anyone who wants to listen.”

At this point Mackenzie will need a second open heart surgery to replace the aortic valve and remove the stenosis but doctors say it’s not urgent.  “She’s being monitored yearly and understands what needs to be done, and why. She’s even looking forward to it and is EXCITED about getting her new scar.”

Rachael says despite her tough beginning, and the large scar down her chest, you would never guess her little girl was a heart hero.  “She loves going to school, is a school leader and role model to her class mates and fellow students.  She loves her swimming, tap dancing and basketball. In fact, she’s just like any regular kid, she’s just got a broken heart.”