Madison needs help
Sick toddler Madison Merrick, 3, has spent more than 80 per cent of her life in Starship children's hospital.
Mum Alana Merrick, 20, sleeps in a hospital bed next to her in a cramped room filled with medical equipment such as the feeding machine that keeps her daughter alive.
"It tests your patience, there's no privacy, but in some ways it has been good because Maddy's almost been raised by a village of people," Ms Merrick says.
Madison was born with her bowel protruding from her body, a condition known as gastroschisis.
Countless surgeries have left the Unsworth Heights toddler with a bowel one-eighth the length of a normal child's.
She cannot eat and so is fed around the clock by an intravenous tube.
Without it she would starve, but because of it she has suffered consecutive line infections that have threatened to kill her.
"This is all she's ever known. But even so she has grown into such a nice little girl.
"She just accepts everyone for who they are. Living here, it's normal for kids to have something wrong with them," Ms Merrick says.
Doctors say the only option for Madison to lead a normal life is to get a bowel transplant, a procedure not available in New Zealand.
Instead she must travel to Birmingham Children's Hospital in the UK and stay on for two years after surgery in case of complications.
"We try not to think too far ahead because with Maddy things can change so quickly. "But this is our last resort," she says.
Ms Merrick has applied to the Health Ministry to fund the operation, but living and travel costs will not be reimbursed.
As Madison's full time carer, Ms Merrick will be unable to work and is relying on donations to make the trip possible.
Totaravale woman Mandy Bennett has stepped in to lead fundraising efforts after reading of Madison's plight in a June issue of the North Shore Times.
"I have a daughter the same age. It really touched me and so I found them on Facebook and have kept an eye on things since," she says.
Marketing guru Mark Dixon has volunteered his expertise along with graphic designer Alicia Marley who has produced the website and promotional material.
The "Mission for Madison Ladies Afternoon" is the first major fundraising event to be held at the Spencer on Byron Hotel in Takapuna on December 9.
Pampering treatments, champagne, raffles and auctions are on offer to attract women of all ages willing to support Madison.
Go to madisonmerrick.org.nz for tickets.
Kids Foundation/Madison Merrick Appeal
North Shore Times