A lot has been done over the years about Brady Mackall’s story. He has been nominated for awards and his picture has been plastered in the media and marketing materials from a young age.
But the young man Mackall has become today is not defined or limited by his previous struggles.
Shortly after birth, Mackall was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect caused by a combination of four heart defects present at birth. The condition caused Mackall’s body to pump blood without oxygen through his heart’s holes in the body.
“We had no idea he had any heart defect, (I) had a perfectly normal pregnancy,” recalls Shelly Mackall, Brady’s mother. “After he was born, when they were giving him a bath, his oxygen level dropped, he turned a kind of bluish gray. Shortly after he was born, he was sent to Charlotte. Levine (the hospital for children) had not yet been built.”
At two weeks old, Mackall had to undergo emergency bypass surgery.
Continued: “An honor to tell Brady’s story”
“And it was really to buy us more time,” Shelly said.
It would be the first of six surgeries Mackall would need to repair defects in his heart, the most recent being a 2014 surgery to install a pig valve on his heart.
Today, Mackall is a senior at Burns High School. He gets good grades, loves baseball — he’s a right fielder and pitcher for the Burns College Bulldogs — and is the happiest outside.
Like most seniors, he’s counting down the days until he can put on his graduation cap and gown.
“High school went by really fast. It’s like I didn’t really notice it,” Mackall said. “I don’t think it has struck me yet that this is my last year playing baseball.”
If you ignore the six open-heart surgeries he underwent, Mackall was raised like any other kid. Rather than putting him in a bubble to protect him, parents Shelly and Mark Mackall gave Brady the freedom to go outdoors, play sports whenever he wanted and pursue hobbies.
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The result was a young man with a passion for hunting and fishing, and a family that camped and kayaked.
“It was a rough start to her life, so we focused on family time, focusing on different kinds of things that the family likes to enjoy,” Shelly said.
“I’m proud of him because he gets an A. He’s a hard worker. He has a 4.1 GPA, he’s in the top 20% of his class. He’s going to graduate and go to college. college and being an engineer and hopefully doing well in life,” Mark said. “You don’t think about it very often. Back then, we didn’t take it for granted, but now we do. He’s a normal kid, we treat him like a kid. A lot of people wouldn’t even know anything. is wrong with him, unless they know him well. At that time, we weren’t sure we had a lot of time.
Mackall has been accepted to UNC-Charlotte, where he will enroll in the fall. He credits much of his success in life to a work ethic passed on to him by his parents.
“They push me to always do better than everyone, to not let anything else stop me. Wherever there is competition, I want to do better than everyone,” he said. “I show up early, focus on whatever I’m doing, like I’m not kidding or whatever. I can do that stuff later, after I’m done.”
It is inevitable that Mackall will eventually have to undergo more heart surgeries in the future. When the doctor placed the pig valve in his heart in 2014, they warned he would likely outgrow it in his late teens or early twenties.
Mackall hopes to wait until he’s finished college before undergoing the procedure. His doctors said they did not expect him to need work for the next few years.
Dustin George can be reached at 704-669-3337 or [email protected]