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 Ralston – Treasurer
Tracey Ralston’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.
Megan Smeaton – Secretary
Megan Smeaton commenced with Harrison’s Little Wings in early 2019, after hearing about our work through Melanie and Rodney. She has long wanted something to dedicate some time to outside of her work commitments and has had some family and friends go through complex and high risk pregnancies. She feels strongly about women and their families being supported through such a tumultuous time in their lives.
Megan has a successful career in operations and project management, along with a background in statistical analysis which she brings with her to the Harrison’s Little Wings Board.
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.
Tionie commenced with Harrison’s Little Wings in 2019. Tionie is a Clinical Midwifery Consultant in Maternal Fetal Medicine, her experience in midwifery has focused on women experiencing high risk or complex pregnancies complicated by either a fetal diagnosis or obstetric/medical complication.
Tionie was employed at Gold Coast University Hospital to set up the Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit in 2014 and it was in the early phase of development she met founder of Harrison’s Little Wing’s Melanie. “I found HLW so crucial in the support of families experiencing such complex pregnancies. So often in healthcare we make decisions about our consumers without actually consulting them. I found working with Melanie who herself had experienced such a complex pregnancy so instrumental in the design of our services. Melanie provided such great insight for me to better understand women and families who are going through such difficult pregnancies, this in turn helps us as health professionals provide more enhanced holistic care.
When I was invited to be on the board as a healthcare expert, I felt incredibly privileged to be able to give back to the community in another way as I strongly believe in the ethos of Harrison’s Little Wings.
Melissa joined the Harrisons Little Wings team in 2019. Melissa is a lawyer and a proud mother of 2. In enduring the loss of 4 pregnancies between her two children, one of which was ectopic, Melissa is passionate about pregnancy education and support which she found lacking in her own journey.
Melissa is grateful to be a part of Harrisons Little Wings, providing a much needed service in the community and to promote more broadly the issues families can face in what should be an exciting time of their lives.
Tom commenced at Harrison’s Little Wings in 2020 after becoming motivated to help women and families through complex pregnancies he experienced at work. Tom is a junior doctor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He not only sees women with complex pregnancies on a daily basis but also the difficulties that come with a diagnosis, complication or even long hospital stays.
“As a junior doctor, I can see these women and their partners on a ward round daily focusing on the medical aspect of their pregnancy. Yet, many of us fail to recognise the psychological or practical requirements of a complicated pregnancy. This led me to Harrison’s Little Wings, where I can make meaningful change to these women outside of the work environment.”
Tom hopes to become a specialist in Maternal Fetal Medicine and continue working with complex pregnancies in the future.
Steph works as a Women’s, Newborns and Children’s Hospital Pharmacist and started with Harrison’s Little Wings in 2020. Steph works consistently with families who are enduring a complex pregnancy or those who have had complex deliveries. She found out about Harrison’s Little Wings after seeing first-hand the support they provided to patients and knew it was a charity worth being involved in.
“I feel really privileged to be involved in an amazing charity and love seeing and hearing about the positive impacts we make on the women and families we support. It is very rewarding.”
Team Photos courtesy of Thea+ Ro Pictorial Media