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CL South Senior Graduating on Time Despite Heart Transplant

Mackenzie Tannhauser was determined to get back to school after her transplant surgery in September in order to enjoy her senior year.

Mackenzie Tannhauser danced all night last Saturday at her cousin’s wedding.

That’s not so surprising for a 17-year-old.

Yet, only months ago, Mackenzie wouldn’t have had the strength to dance, let alone participate in any form of strenuous activity. In fact, the Crystal Lake teen had been weak and tired for the past three years – until September 7, 2011.

On that date, the Crystal Lake South High School senior underwent a heart transplant surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Mackenzie had suffered from heart problems since she was 8 years old, and subsequent surgeries to install a defibrillator and eventually a pacemaker caused trauma to her body, and her heart swelled. The bigger her heart grew, the less it functioned properly.

. Back then, Mackenzie’s mother, Karen, said Mackenzie’s ultimate goal was to recuperate as quickly as possible and return to school to enjoy her senior year.

After spending two weeks in the hospital, three weeks at the Kohl’s House near the hospital and two months recovering at home, Mackenzie realized that goal. She returned to Crystal Lake South in January at the beginning of the second semester.

Despite her battles, the petite and vibrant teen not only stayed on top of her studies, but will graduate on time Saturday along with the rest of her classmates.

“I’m pretty happy,” Mackenzie said. “I put in a lot of work, and I’m happy with what I was able to accomplish.”

Once back at school, Mackenzie joined the school choir and traveled to New York over spring break to perform. She’s having fun hanging out with her friends, and, like most teens, searching for a summer job.

She recently spoke at a dance marathon benefitting Children’s Memorial, and has been invited by the hospital to participate in the upcoming parade and ribbon cutting celebrating the hospital’s new building on June 4, she said.

“My only limitation is taking my medication in the morning and at night,” Mackenzie said. “But I’m pretty accustomed to that.”

In the fall, Mackenzie plans to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee, where she wants to study biomedical engineering.

Next week, her parents and brothers, Reese, 15, and Riley, 11, have planned a big graduation party to celebrate Mackenzie’s success.

“This whole thing has been overwhelming,” said Ward Tannhauser, Mackenzie’s father. “I’m very proud of my daughter.”

Christine des Rochers May 26, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Women in Management of McHenry County is so pleased to be awarding Mackenzie one of our "Challenge" Scholarships! We wish her the best at Marquette next year! Congratulations on all your amazing accomplishments! Christine des Rochers, Scholarship Committee www.wimonline.org

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