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Diane and Mackenzie: love at first sight

Chantal Raymond
CHS National Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Mackenzie and Diane, a perfect match

Diane is not an ordinary woman. She is an energetic fun-loving single mom of a five-year-old adopted son with hemophilia.

Diane had always wanted a child. Her perseverance led to numerous surgeries and artificial insemination until a ruptured appendix that nearly killed her put a stop to the hope of her ever being pregnant. Three weeks after that terrible event, she registered to adopt.

Then, the good news came: a friend of a friend, a 15-year-old, chose adoption for her child and wished for Diane to adopt her baby. Both women spent four great months together preparing for the birth. One Thursday, the little miracle was born; the following Monday, the birthmother had changed her mind.

Following this last-minute failed adoption, Diane was very depressed for a couple of months. When she got back into the “sane world” as she says, she registered again to adopt. Eleven months later, Diane was holding her dream baby in her arms. It was love at first sight. Everything was going to be all right now.

A year and a half later, Mackenzie fell off his bed. Diane took him into her own bed for the rest of that night. When Diane woke up the next morning, there was literally blood everywhere. Mackenzie's lip was bleeding non-stop. Then, the phone rang: Diane's mother had had a mini stroke. The drama just wouldn't stop. Diane packed some bags to make the three-hour trip from her home to Halifax to see her mom while trying to stop Mackenzie's bleeding lip. Before leaving for Halifax, she decided to stop at the hospital to have Mackenzie checked. There, they tried many ways to stop the bleeding but nothing worked. She was then told to leave for Halifax, that the wound would heal by itself, that she was overreacting. Off she went. Blood was everywhere in the car.

When they arrived in Halifax, Diane left her son in the care of her sister and went to see her mom. When she came back, the bleeding had not stopped. Diane took him to Children's Hospital where doctors and nurses stripped him down and seemed to be looking for bruises. They were looking at Diane as if she had beaten her son. It's a look she will never forget. She finally reached a hematologist who said they would do some more blood tests. In the meantime, they would give Mackenzie a transfusion to compensate for his blood loss. Diane, who had lost many friends to AIDS and knew about the tainted blood tragedy, put her hand on the bag and prayed that this blood was safe.

The next morning, the news broke: “We know what's wrong with your son.” Diane's heart skipped a beat at the hemophilia diagnosis. In shock, she didn't hear much after that. Four days later, the nurse coordinator who would take care of Mackenzie explained what she needed to know and gave her reading material to take home. It was all overwhelming. A different life was starting for Diane and Mackenzie. A life that included unusual care and treatment, with some pretty scary moments. Once, at two and a half years old, Mackenzie repeatedly fell on his bum. Diane discovered his ankle was swollen to the size of an orange. It took four months to get over that series of bleeds! Diane was told that, although Mackenzie had been diagnosed with moderate hemophilia, he could still suffer from severe bleeds.

Starting the infusion process was also quite frightening. Like any parent infusing her child, Diane has to emotionally detach herself. She feels that if Mackenzie senses her anxiety, she has trouble finding a vein and as a result, the infusion cannot proceed. Mackenzie is now on prophylaxis three times a week. In August 2006, when infusing Mackenzie became very difficult, a child psychologist came to the rescue.

One day, the social worker from the treatment centre mentioned to Diane that she could probably register Mackenzie with the Children's Wish Foundation. And she did. To their great joy and surprise, Mackenzie was granted his wish. He will be going on a Disney cruise and then to Disney World for a week. He can take along his cousin, Blake, and Diane can also bring a friend to share in this great adventure. In Diane's eyes, Mackenzie deserves that his wish be fulfilled. Not long ago, when Mackenzie's friend asked him why he was taking medicine, he replied, at the young age of five, “Without my medicine, I'm going to die.” To Diane, that's just one example of what can go through the mind of a child with hemophilia and that, alone, deserves that a special wish be granted to all children with hemophilia.

Having benefited from the programs and activities offered by the CHS, Diane decided to become a volunteer at both the chapter and national levels. At the Nova Scotia Chapter, she is responsible for communications and the chapter newsletter and is also their fundraising representative. She has been a great advocate for the CHS. Among other things, she has shown the CHS public awareness video to social clubs and to many branches of the Royal Bank for whom she works.

Diane is not an ordinary woman. Yet she doesn't see herself as brave. She just does what she has to do for her son to stay healthy. It's her son who is very brave, she says. She just makes sure her life with Mackenzie is all about having fun and appreciating every moment they have together. Nothing is ever taken for granted in the lives of Diane and Mackenzie.

- Winter 2008