Kayla, 7, could die from just a cold
Little girl’s plight highlights toll of respiratory disease
She may look like a healthy little girl but a common cold could kill her. Kayla, who has a severe respiratory illness, weighs only 18kg as her lungs burn energy just struggling to breathe. Her mum, Angela White, has to feed the 7-year-old a special high-calorie diet that includes three tubs of margarine a week to keep her weight up. Her 5-year-old brother is 4kg heavier than her.
“I hate seeing her naked or even in her togs,” White said. “All you can see are collarbones and shoulder bones and that’s because her lungs are working so hard.
“It sucks. I’m a single mum. You just deal with it day to day. It’s become our life now.”
Kayla was born in a critical condition with hydrops fetalis, a condition that means fluid in her chest cavity restricted the growth of her lungs. Because of this she has chronic lung disease, asthma, emphysema, cystic fibrosis and her lungs have only 70 per cent function.
Over 700,000 Kiwis have a respir- atory condition — it’s the third leading cause of death and costs the country $6 billion each year, the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation says. In New Zealand over 521,000 people take medication for asthma, making it the most common respir- atory condition in the country. White is speaking out about the difficulties they face for Breathe Better September, which encourages Kiwis to show support for better breathing and healthy lungs. She also hopes to raise awareness of the foundation, which is not Government funded.
White said that while children with cancer got a lot of financial support, she wished those with other severe illnesses got the same treatment. Kayla’s illness meant she couldn’t work and the family live on about $200 a week after rent and bills.
“I get paid on Thursday and there’s nothing left by Sunday.
“My son is saying, ‘Mum, have you got money this weekend, can we go for a swim?’ I’m like, ‘Mate, I can’t afford it.’ The look on his face is just sad. He’s doing jobs around the house to earn money but I can’t afford to pay him. He’s so aware of our situation at just 5.
“I think it’s about time that the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation got some recognition. They need that funding to help kids like Kayla who don’t get that help.” Follow Kayla’s journey on her Facebook page, Kayla’s broken lungs.
Kayla White was born with a severe respiratory disease that left her lungs with only 70 per cent function.