McKenzie Poindexter is not your typical 17-year-old. She underwent surgery after birth, and she’s been in and out of the hospital ever since. She received a double-lung transplant for cystic fibrosis two years ago, and now she has end-stage kidney and liver disease. She’s among the sickest of the sick patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“McKenzie has always wanted to wear a prom dress and go to prom,” says her mother, Angela Poindexter, “but she doesn’t have the opportunity because she’s pretty sick.”
Upon learning of McKenzie’s prom dream, the 7 West patient care team surprised her by staging a prom just for her Nov. 7. In just 24 hours they acquired:
- a pink formal prom dress and a tiara crown
- room decorations, including a disco mirror ball, decorative stars and lights, and a photo backdrop
- cupcakes and soft drinks
They set up everything in an extra room and wheeled McKenzie in for the big surprise. “It was beautiful,” unit secretary Jerline Hall says of the surprise. “To see a smile as big as she had on her face … I hadn’t seen a smile like that on her before. Those girls got busy and did a beautiful job.”
McKenzie, radiant in her new outfit, beamed with delight. She cherished her guests – family, nurses, doctors and staff. She danced with her father. He stood and swayed to the music, holding her hands to help her move in her wheelchair to the sound of Kelly Clarkson singing “Breakaway.”
McKenzie speaks in a soft whisper due to her condition, but her constant smile spoke more than words. So did the smiles and tears of those watching. “They went way above and beyond,” Angela says. “They do all the time anyway, but this was a huge surprise.”
As Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
McKenzie’s nurses, Trish Kreikemeier and Jennifer Schulte, agree.“I wouldn’t trade this for any amount of money or world travel,” Kreikemeier says.
“This is the best job in the world.” “This is why we work here as nurses,” Schulte says. “To see the smile on her face.”