Our first child, Makenna, was born on October 22, 2008. Unknown to us, she was about to begin a six week struggle to keep her liver from failing. Unfortunately, the battle would come to an end on December 3rd, 2008. Although countless tests, examinations and consultations would lead to a probable diagnosis, only the autopsy results would confirm Makenna was born with Neonatal Hemochromatosis. This is a rare disorder, which causes an excess accumulation of iron in the liver and eventual liver failure. (www.neonatalhemochromatosis.org)
Makenna was a patient at Riley Hospital for Children (http://rileychildrenshospital.com/) for three of the six short weeks she spent with us. The care the doctors, nurses, and support staff gave Makenna was beyond outstanding. They were always willing to listen to a concerned parents desperate plea for answers and hope. The staff at Riley Hospital for Children continually and tirelessly pursued the cause of Makenna’s liver failure. During our entire stay at Riley, Makenna was at the top of the list to be cared for, right along with all the other children in every wing of the hospital. This outstanding care and support was top notch. Although our experience was extremely heartbreaking, Riley Hospital for Children also allowed our experience with Makenna to be extraordinary and fulfilling.
We knew we had to help make a difference in the lives of liver disease patients because we were so inspired by Makenna’s strength and our experiences at Riley. So, after Makenna left the comfort of our arms we decided to honor and remember her forever. We spoke to Makenna’s doctor at Riley and she connected us with Riley Children’s Foundation (www.rileykids.org). A decision was made to establish the Makenna Van Laeken Liver Research Fund to advocate, educate, and eventually perform pediatric liver research at Riley. The Makenna Van Laeken Liver Research Fund is established with Riley Children’s Foundation to benefit Riley Hospital for Children. A goal of establishing it as an endowment has been set. This will ensure its existence through the years. The research fund must first reach $100,000 to be endowed and then it will be built upon year after year to benefit Riley and its patients.
We are extremely excited to honor Makenna by assisting Riley Hospital for Children in making an extraordinary difference in the lives of children fighting liver disease and the families who care so deeply about the health of those children.