Age: 7 Hometown: Ladera Ranch, CA Game: UCLA vs. University of Arizona View game photos
Brooke is a sweet, sassy young girl who loves to make new friends. “She is kind to everyone,” Brooke’s mom Jenni says. “When there is a new student at school, she is the one sitting with them pulling them by the hand to go play.”
But when Brooke was just 2 months old, she was diagnosed with a heart disorder called dilated cardiomyopathy. Her heart was three times the size of a healthy heart. A little over a year later, her heart became infected with a virus that seriously jeopardized her health.
After visiting a cardiologist, Brooke’s parents were informed that their daughter would need a heart transplant. At that point, Brooke was sent to UCLA’s pediatric intensive care unit as she and her family awaited an eligible heart for transplant.
“It’s a happy bright hospital,” Brooke says of UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. “It felt like I was basically at home with two families beside me.”
Once it came time for her transplant, Brooke had befriended her entire healthcare team, and their support guided her and her family through the frightening process of heart transplantation.
“The nurses were so fabulous and that was seriously a game changer for us,” Jenni says. “Handing over your child, knowing that the heart I gave her is about to be taken out, was the scariest moment of my entire life. I was […] just placing all my faith in UCLA, in the doctors, and in the process that it was all going to work out.”
Brooke’s operation was successful, and in August she celebrated her five-year post-transplant anniversary.
Brooke’s selection as a UCLA Kid Caption reflects her bright embodiment of resilience and optimism in the face of life-threatening challenges.
“Brooke’s being a kid captain at UCLA means so much to our family and to Brooke personally,” says Brooke’s dad Chris.