Mckenzie was an athletic, active child plagued by constant knee pain. After realizing it was more serious than just growing pains, her parents knew they had to see a doctor. When reviewing Mckenzie’s MRI, her doctor noticed a spot on her femur. He diagnosed Mckenzie with a rare tumor condition called Chondroblastoma, which can cause pain and recurring tumors. The condition generally affects long bones and is most common in children and young adults.
The pain forced Mckenzie to end her soccer career, a sport she played and loved since kindergarten. Normal activities like walking and standing became excruciating. “It wasn’t easy being diagnosed with something so serious as a child,” said Mckenzie. “My life came to a complete stop. My family and I knew we needed to do something because it wasn’t a pain I could spend the rest of my life with.” Since her diagnosis, Mckenzie has endured five surgeries to remove tumors and clean up her leg. In each surgery, she received donated tissue.
“I think it is amazing what we can do and how we can help others in need,” she said. “I am so thankful I was able to receive tissue.” Mckenzie received a juvenile cartilage allograft in her most recent surgery. Juvenile cartilage allografts come from donors aged one month to 12-years-old. Though she still faces some limitations, Mckenzie is pain-free and has been able to return to some of her favorite sports. “My life won’t ever be 100% normal because of what the tumor did to my leg, but this has helped me in getting my life back,” she said. “If I hadn’t had this procedure I could have eventually lost my leg.”
Mckenzie is grateful for the tissue donation that helped her heal and hopes sharing her experience will encourage others to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. “The only thing I can be is thankful to still be here, as healthy as I can be, and to make sure to tell my story to help others realize how important it is to be a donor.”