Meet Mackenna: A UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital Champion

Meet Mackenna: A UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital Champion

During Family Advocacy Day, Mackenna and her family will discuss her health journey, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital’s role in providing her with necessary care, and why we must invest in the future of patients like Mackenna.

After spending her first four months of life in the NICU, Mackenna’s doctors at the hospital she was born at didn’t know how to provide care due to the severity of her pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). She was brought to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to continue with treatment.

Mackenna, a UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital
champion, is participating in Family Advocacy
Day 2023.

“Immediately fear, sadness and resolve came over our family,” says Amanda, Mackenna’s mother. “We started marshaling our family and resources and focusing on what needed to be done in order to best help Mackenna.”

Now 16, Mackenna’s PAH has worsened, but she is currently stable with medication and medical oversight. She was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, PTSD, anxiety, depression and ADHD. Her mental health has improved over the past year, but she still faces challenges with her emotional health.

Mackenna has gone through, and is currently receiving, a wide variety of care from UCLA Mattel, including cardiological care, PICU admissions during times of respiratory distress, neuropsychiatric ward admission and other behavioral health care.

“Her psychiatric care has shifted to private payer due to a lack of resources and lack of consistency,” says Amanda. “We were facing limited availability and consistency of qualified mental health professionals, constantly jumping through hoops to get what we need.”

Mackenna is an aspiring journalist, taking inspiration from journalists such as Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, as well as fictional characters Rory Gilmore and Francie Nowlin.

Family Advocacy Day

Elevating patient stories and educating lawmakers remains critical to increase awareness about the essential care provided by children's hospitals.