Most 11-year-olds haven't had to, or don't really understand most types of medical procedures. But for MaKenzie Blackburn, the young softball player has been through a lifetime of medical issues when she underwent an organ transplant.
Doctors told Cindy Blackburn almost ten years ago, her daughter, Makenzie, might not make it to age two. Makenzie Blackburn was born with Near Intestinal Hirschsprung's Disease, which left her intestines useless.
"When she was born we weren't given that much hope,” Cindy Blackburn said. “But when that happened, it became more important to me not to worry about the length but rather the quality, whether she would grow up and have friends and what she did have would be meaningful.”
But Makenzie found a donor. The bowel she received belonged to an eight-year old boy. After undergoing the transplant at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Makenzie now lives an active lifestyle and is a member of the Stealerz Fastpitch 12U team.
“Softball is one of my favorite sports because I've been doing it since I was six years old,” MaKenzie said. “I get to hang out with all my friends and I'll make new friends in my whole life.”
“The parents knew about it and the players slowly found out about it,” said Darrly Winger, MaKenzie’s softball coach. “I have never known of anything that has come up with her condition that has been adverse. She's earned her way in every single step and we're very proud of her for that.”
“I didn't know that none of the girls knew about it,” MaKenzie said, “but one day Chloe came up to me and said she was proud and stuff.”
The friends she's met through softball don't treat her any different. And at a recent tournament, the girls sported “Donate Life” wristbands to show their support for organ donors and how one saved their friend and teammates life.
“ Without him she wouldn't be here today,” said Cindy Blackburn. “We've been with the Stealerz a few years now but we've got friends here from other teams. They're opponents on the field but they all fight for the same thing off it. They're all friends.”
“My friends over there don't treat me any differently,” MaKenzie said. “They're like the best friends I could ever have.”