Health help for kids

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By NI­COLA STE­WART ni­cola.ste­wart@wrcn.co.nz

In most ways five-year-old Kaiya Miller is ex­actly like any other new en­trant at Mata­mata Pri­mary School.

The only dif­fer­ence is, Kaiya was di­ag­nosed with a life-threat­en­ing ill­ness at just three-weeks-old.

Kaiya suf­fers from cys­tic fi­bro­sis, a con­di­tion that af­fects a num­ber of or­gans in the body (par­tic­u­larly the lungs and the pan­creas) by clog­ging them with thick, sticky mu­cus.

CF has also caused her to de­velop di­a­betes and has af­fected her abil­ity to di­gest food, mean­ing she is fed ex­clu­sively through a tube in her tummy.

Kaiya spends months of the year in the chil­dren’s ward at Waikato Hos­pi­tal and last year was one of the faces of the Count­down Kids Hos­pi­tal ap­peal.

The ap­peal is now in its sev­enth year and to date has raised $5.7 mil­lion to pro­vide es­sen­tial equip­ment for 10 New Zealand chil­dren’s

hos­pi­tals.

Kaiya’s mum Glenny said she had seen first­hand the pos­i­tive af­fect the fund­ing has had at Waikato Hos­pi­tal.

Pro­ceeds from the ap­peal meant the hos­pi­tal now had breath­ing mon­i­tors and Neop­uffs (in­fant re­sus­ci­ta­tors) that are cru­cial in pro­vid­ing care to chil­dren with con­di­tions such as CF and whoop­ing cough.

‘‘There’s just not the bud­get in the hos­pi­tal to pro­vide some of this equip­ment,’’ said Glenny. ‘‘ Count­down Kids is an amaz­ing ini­tia­tive . . . it saves chil­dren’s lives.’’

The ma­jor­ity of chil­dren’s wards across the coun­try were not as well known as Star­ship Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, she said.

‘‘Waikato is closer to home and we think the world of the staff there. They are like our ex­tended fam­ily.’’

Count­down Mata­mata staff mem­ber Joanne Walker has taken on the role of Count­down Kids Cham­pion for the last three years. Cham­pi­ons are in charge of fundrais­ing in their area and this year Joanne is de­ter­mined to raise as much money as pos­si­ble.

She met Kaiya at Waikato Hos­pi­tal two years ago and said the five-year-old has ‘‘stolen her heart’’.

‘‘ She is just an awe­some lit­tle girl,’’ she said. ‘‘She’s al­ways smil­ing.’’ Joanne has a num­ber of fundrais­ing ideas up her sleeve and is ask­ing the Mata­mata com­mu­nity for their sup­port.

Lo­cal busi­nesses can help by do­nat­ing items to be raf­fled or sold in a silent auc­tion and are wel­come to or­gan­ise their own fundrais­ing events.

Res­i­dents can do their part by do­nat­ing un­wanted items to be sold at the Mata­mata Mar­kets and pro­vid­ing home bak­ing or tof­fee ap­ples to be sold at the Count­down check­outs. Schools are also en­cour­aged to help out by hold­ing mufti days or wacky hair days. One hun­dred per cent of the pro­ceeds go to­wards fund­ing equip­ment.

For Kaiya: Cys­tic fi­bro­sis suf­ferer Kaiya Miller, 5, with Count­down Kids Cham­pion Joanne Walker.

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