Runner carries big burden
Father prepares for gruelling challengeMARYKE PENMAN
The father of a two-year-old liver transplant recipient is preparing to run the Auckland Marathon dressed in full military kit and carrying a 20-kilogram pack.
New Zealand Defence Force youth instructor David Cave has been pounding the pavements of Northcote in training for the 42km slog.
He has recruited two of his military comrades, Te Huki McDonald and Dean Eades, to run on behalf of the Starship Foundation.
The youngest of his two daughters, Madison Cave, was 6 months old when she was diagnosed with a rare blockage of the bile ducts - a condition called biliary artresia.
Doctors warned Mr Cave and his wife Kelly that their baby girl would survive no more than a year without a liver transplant.
Mr Cave donated part of his liver to save his daughter.
But Madison's kidneys still shut down and once again her life was in the balance.
Doctors fast-tracked a liver from Australia and within just nine days Madison underwent her second transplant.
Surgeons said it was the shortest time in between transplants when treating a single patient.
Madison is now at home but the road to recovery has not been without its hiccups, Mr Cave says.
The toddler has fought plasma pheresis, a severe rejection to her new liver.
"She's had two lines in either side of her neck. Blood had to be taken out one side, cleaned out and put back in the other. Her own antibodies were attacking her."
Pneumonia, a collapsed lung, a low platelet count and recurring herpes virus have also plagued the youngster.
"What she's been through would make a multi-million-dollar movie," Mr Cave says.
"But even after everything we think ‘you know what, we're the lucky ones, our kid came home'."
The ordeal has given Madison an incredible fighting spirit, Mr Cave says - a trait he calls on during hours of gruelling early morning training.
"It's more about the mental fitness and putting one foot in front of the other," he says. "My knees are shot to pieces, you get sore, but no matter what I go through it's nothing in comparison to kids like Maddy."
The unconventional running attire of camouflage uniform, leather boots and pack has drawn a few funny looks in his neighbourhood, Mr Cave says.
The trio expects to the complete the run within the seven hour cut-off.
"By no means do I intend to get picked up by the bus. I'll never live it down." Go to fundraiseonline.co.nz/militarymarathon to make a donation.
STEPPING IT UP
David Cave also hopes to take part in the gruelling Marathon des Sables to raise money for the Starship Foundation. The event covers more than 200km of the Sahara Desert and is touted as one of the most trying tests of human character on earth. It costs about $4000 and Mr Cave is keen to hear from anyone who could help make the feat possible. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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