Heart Month with Mckinnley

In recognition of American Heart Month, members from the Speak Now for Kids community will share their personal experience of raising a child with a congenital heart defect (CHD). Today, we will get an update from McKinnley’s mom, Jenny, on how this four-year-old is doing ever since she was discharged from American Family Children's Hospital.

McKinnley was born eight weeks early and diagnosed with transposition of the great arteries, an incredibly complex heart defect. At only two hours old, she underwent her first procedure to stabilize her heart. Bonding with her mother in the above photo, McKinnley is assisted by feeding and breathing tubes. To survive, she needed another surgery. But weighing less than 3 pounds, McKinnley would first have to grow stronger and put on weight

Ounce by ounce, McKinnley grew. In the above photo, she is two months old and held by her father just before she undergoes a nine-hour open heart surgery to restore her aorta and pulmonary artery connections. The wires on McKinnley’s head are in place to monitor for seizures, which is standard practice for babies undergoing heart surgery.  

“I made it!” McKinnley tells the world just 24 days after coming through her complex surgery with flying colors. Her healing and growing continues with the help of multiple specialists in neonatology, critical care, pediatric cardiology, maternal fetal medicine and others.

Today, Mckinney is doing great! “It’s hard to believe how healthy and smart she is considering everything she went through in the beginning,” says Jenny. She hardly ever gets sick ever since leaving the hospital. McKinnley is extremely smart and loves to learn. She enjoys playing the drums and her guitar.

“She's starting school this September. Where has my baby gone! We couldn’t ask for a better hospital for McKinnley. They saved her life and we are forever grateful for the medical team there and for John Maniaci, UW Health staff photographer,” Jenny adds. “We’re also Facebook friends with a lot of her nurses and we always make sure to stop by the NICU to say hi every time we’re at the hospital for check-ups.”

To read more stories about and view photos of other children like McKinnley, visit the Children’s Hospitals Photo Exhibit

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