Monday, November 10, 2008

Transplants – It is about hope & normality

Princess of the House had a liver transplant when she was 4.5 years old. Most of our close friends know this. But most people have no idea Princess has had such as disastrous health record. Last week, I stood as a proud mum of a 10-year girl who battled other normal kids to take 1st place in the 100m and 200m sprints among Year 5girls in her school. This, for me, is a pretty fine endorsement that she is "normal".

I will always remember the liver transplant team’s message to us -– the central pursuit of any transplant is to give the recipient the opportunity to live a normal life. Princess was lucky she found a close enough match; and is under the hawkish care of her liver angels at Starship Hospital. She is into her 5th year as a transplant patient. She is living life like any normal kid – swims, plays tennis, does artistic gymnastics and ballroom dancing. And oh, she even has an attitude problem from time to time.

Who is David Poa?
Recently our specialist nurse sent me a message about this kid called Karl David Poa. I took one look at David’s pictures in the document our nurse sent me and was in awe of David instantly.

I saw this huge mop of long, bushy hair – wild and free – and his mischievous smile. I saw his beautiful face – not a trace of worry or care -- and the twinkle in his eye. I saw total abandonment. Most of all, I saw great hope for him.

I don’t know David. But I know he has intestinal failure. David spent the first 3.5 years of his life in hospital. He is 7 now but has spent most of his childhood for extended periods in Starship Hospital. His “food” is fed intravenously over 15 hours a day.

They are running out of veins (used to administer his feeds) to put a line into David. Lines get infected despite the best of care. His best option is to have an intestinal transplant – which is not available in NZ. He needs to get this transplant done in the US. He has been accepted by specialists in Omaha-Nebraska for an assessment, and likely wait-list for a transplant.

I learnt of David's story from Princess' specialist nurse. Now I want to share this story with you my friends, and hope you too can reach out to your circle of friends –to help with David’s journey.

The NZ health system will fund his transplant cost. But before he can go to the US, he needs to raise big amounts of money for him and his family to live for 3-4 years in the US. The KIDS Foundation in NZ has set up a fund raising campaign for David.

The nurses at Starship Hospital at Ward 26B describe David as a sweet, cheeky, mischievous boy who is also funny, charming and endearing. He is sociable, loves to be in the hub of everything and is inquisitive about what's around him. Like most boys, he loves the PlayStation and his cartoons.

To give is to receive
Now, when I think about David’s fund raising quest, I wish he could get on that plane soon. I wish for David to be able to taste “real” food, to bite into a muesli bar, to have Weetbix and crunchy fries, and not have to rely on TPN (liquid) feeds.

I want David to feel what it is like, to live life normally – but most of all, I wish for David to be given a chance – that’s all. To donate to David’s fund, visit the KIDS Foundation's website