Melanie McKenzie – Founder
Melanie Mackenzie founded Harrison’s Little Wings in 2010, following the birth of her son Harrison. Harrison lived for only 28 hours due to an incurable condition called ‘Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia’. Harrison was diagnosed with this condition at his 20-week Fetal Morphology Scan. Following this diagnosis, Melanie and her family faced 20 weeks of emotional turmoil, not knowing what would happen to their son.
Since giving birth to her son, Melanie is passionate about quality maternity care for women and their families during pregnancies with poor or fatal diagnoses and after birth. Many families must make life-altering decisions that impact their families and their life. During her own pregnancy, Melanie noticed gaps within our health system where women like her are shuffled through this system, feeling unsupported, isolated and lonely.
Harrison’s Little Wings Inc was created to give extra support to these families. Of utmost importance is that families are given all the information in an empathetic and supportive environment. This allows them to make decisions at their own pace, giving them time to digest the information and to discuss decisions amongst family and friends.
Through Harrison’s Little Wings, Melanie undertakes speaking engagements and participates in educational programs. “My aim is to create awareness among medical care teams and students about the hardship faced by these families and educate them in dealing with perinatal death.” says Melanie.
Melanie feels privileged to sit on several Queensland state boards and consult on Maternity projects. “It is a lovely reminder of how the support blanket for these families is growing and their needs are being understood and reinforced,” she says.
Tracey Barker – Treasurer
Tracey Barker’s daughter Lily suffered an extreme risk pregnancy and lost her son Jaxon when he was still born. Tracey very nearly lost Lily due to complications and she underwent lifesaving surgery.
After Jaxon was born, their lives were shattered. According to Tracey, “We are strong, healthy, capable, and close loving family. This was something we never imagined happening to our family.”
The road back to physical health, a functioning mental and emotional place took the family down a path of gentle determination. Unfortunately, they were not aware of Harrison’s Little Wings prior to this tragic event.
“If we’d know about Harrison’s Little Wings during this pregnancy, we could have drawn on the team’s extensive knowledge and care.” says Tracey.
I have joined with them to promote their services to any family that find themselves in this unimaginable position.
“I will never understand why this happened, but I will never believe this beautiful baby was born to destroy us. I will honour Jaxon and his beautiful, courageous mother by putting my energy and purpose into Harrison’s Little Wings Charity team for the women and families they care for.”
“In the short time I have been involved with Harrison’s Little Wings and on the committee I have seen and experienced the wonderful services they offer and the positive impact they can make to mothers suffering extreme pregnancy risk along with their families.” says Tracey.
Liz Steuart began volunteering with Harrison’s Little Wings in 2012, following the loss of her twin baby girls.
“I first started volunteering because it was extremely helpful to have people around me that understood my loss and the journey I was on and I wanted to be able to help other women and their families who had experienced something similar.”
“Knowing that I’m part of a team that really makes a difference is very rewarding and has given me a sense of purpose again after my losses. I have been lucky enough to watch Harrison’s Little Wings grow over the years and I am really proud to be part of such an amazing organisation.”, says Liz.
Karen has experienced her own pregnancy losses, infertility and high risk multiple pregnancy, but has been blessed with three healthy, happy children. She is an experienced and compassionate qualified and registered counselor who has an interest in bereavement, grief, loss and change.
In particular, Karen has worked in community services with a focus on maternity and the parental journey.
Within her private practice of over 10 years in Gold Coast North, Karen provides various support services for parents to connect and gain support in times of loss grief and change.
“In times of uncertainty about becoming parents, it is comforting to know that they have options that can help to empower and connect them with their resilience. And that they are not alone in this different journey.”, says Karen.
After the loss of her daughter, Rohanda Pelly began volunteering for Harrison’s Little Wings to help other mothers experiencing a poor of fatal diagnosis during pregnancy.
“I wanted to make a difference in someone else’s life and wish I had known about the support Harrison’s Little Wings provides when I was pregnant with my daughter.’, says Rohanda. “Taking some off the pressure off you at home while you’re stuck on bed rest, would have really helped our family.”
Rodney McKenzie is the proud father of Harrison, and is an intricate member of our committee, giving a fathers perspective on poor of fatal diagnosis during pregnancy. He understands the stress a family endures while experiencing an extreme, high-risk pregnancy.
Rodney is a successful Project manager for a construction company and with his skill set he brings a business perspective to Harrison’s Little Wings.
Team Photos courtesy of Thea+ Ro Pictorial Media