A mystery illness has left a Whangārei 6-year-old trapped in her own body, with her only means of communication laughing and crying despite no obvious intellectual deficit.

All that doctors have been able to determine of Mackenzie Campbell's condition as she lies in Starship Hospital's neurology ward, is that an MRI showed swelling around the spinal cord.

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This scan was administered at Whangārei Hospital in late January after Mackenzie abruptly lost her ability to walk, talk or control any movements over the space of two hours.


In a Givealittle page set up by her auntie, Karla Frost, the dramatic onset of Mackenzie's is recounted.

"She didn't recover well from the general anaesthetic so she earnt herself a midnight chopper ride to Starship intensive care, after 3 days in PICU where she progressively got worse, unable to move voluntarily and having painful spasms," Frost wrote.

"All the results from her lumbar puncture, bloods and CT are completely normal.
"There is still no clear diagnosis for her yet- but it looks like an autoimmune condition."

With further tests still being run over the coming weeks, Frost said Mackenzie may potentially have some mixture of Guillain-Barré syndrome, Miller Fisher syndrome, Bickerstaff brainstem encephalitis and Transverse Myelitis.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves.

In 2016, the Herald reported the predicament of then 12-year-old Auckland girl Gabby Wright who was paralysed after diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis - an inflammation of the spinal cord causing paralysis.

Gabby had complained of a sore back after playing netball in June 2016, the next day could no longer use her legs.

Mackenzie Campbell, 6, with her parents Rochelle and Chance.
Mackenzie Campbell, 6, with her parents Rochelle and Chance.

For Mackenzie Campbell, right now, the best doctors can do for her is medicate her to keep her comfortable.


"Mackenzie is now on the neurology ward at Starship and will be there for a few more weeks by the sounds. So far the suggested plan is when she is medically stable enough, she will be discharged to the Wilson rehab facility in Auckland, for a few months, if not more," Frost writes.

"For now its about keeping her comfortable and starting her rehab journey (Physio, Occupational therapy and Speech Language therapy). She needs to learn how to talk, eat, move and walk again once she has the strength."

Her current state is hard to take for her family given the lack of symptoms from "being a normal 6 year old girl, running around with her little brother and sister, and enjoying time at the beach".

"Mackenzie is an absolute trooper and is able to smile, laugh and cry and she understands 100% but she cannot communicate back to us," Frost writes.

"It's going to be a long journey to recovery for our Mackenzie, and we appreciate all the love and support for this brave little lady!"

And in anticipation of that long rehab journey the family are asking for support.

"Mackenzie is the much loved daughter of Rochelle and Chance, and a great big sister to Finn, 4, and Marlow, 2. They are all being super strong for Mackenzie," Frost writes.

"She is super loved, but there are going to be ongoing costs with Mackenzie's recovery when she eventually gets home, and I hope to raise some money to put towards this, and to help their beautiful family of five."

With the donation total now at $6,710, a separate message of thanks was posted by Mackenzie's parents Rochelle and Chance yesterday.

"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of the donations towards Mackenzie's rehab - it will mean she can have whatever rehab is suggested and we can put all of our love and energy into this," they write.

"We are completely humbled and absolutely stunned with this type of support."