Family appreciated charity house

22:28, May 17 2014
 Vanessa and Stephen Penn
FAMILY UNIT: Vanessa and Stephen Penn, with their daughters Kyla, 7, (front) and Brooke, 13, were able to stay together at the Ronald McDonald House Auckland when Kyla suffered a badly burst appendix.

Vanessa and Stephen Penn count themselves lucky the Ronald McDonald House was able to take in their entire family when their youngest daughter suffered a badly burst appendix.

Six-year-old Kyla was sick with the flu and on antibiotics in the days leading up to the discovery, in July last year. The family are speaking about their journey in the hopes of rasing awareness for the charity during its Family Week campaign.

"We went back to the doctor and they said it was an ear infection and got more antibiotics," Mrs Penn said. "It was about two or three days later she was up in agony crying so I took her back the next day.

After being sent to the hospital, doctors still weren't able to diagnose Kyla's stomach pains, and undertook investigative surgery.

"Surgeons came around and said they would look and if it wasn't burst they would remove it anyway because she didn't need it," she said.

Mrs Penn said the laparoscopic surgery was set down to take 40 minutes, but when it stretched into the hour mark both she and her husband became very worried.


"It was burst, so they sliced her open and they found it had been burst for a long time and had gone rotten," she said.

Mr Penn said nurses told the couple immediately what had happened, and said it was one of the worst cases they had seen.

"All the gunk had become stuck to her organs so they had to clean them," she said. "We have no idea how long it had been rotten for."

But the ordeal was not over for the family.

The next day Kyla's stomach "blew up" with infection, putting pressure on her lungs, and a helicopter transfer to Starship children's hospital was arranged.

The family spent 10 days at the Ronald McDonald House Auckland while Kyla recovered.

Mrs Penn said support from the charity while they were vulnerable was relieving for the family.

"I don't know what we would have done because there is no affordable accommodation," she said. "We calculated we would have spent $500 on food but some people just can't afford that, and if you had to pay accommodation too . . ."

The Penn family is holding a family picnic today to celebrate Family Week, and fundraise for Ronald McDonald House Auckland.

Manawatu Standard