Teen puts her suffering aside to help others

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2013

Shylah's fundraiser

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 Shylah Harwood
DEAN KOZINAC/Fairfax NZ
BATTLER: Shylah Harwood, 14, has endured hundreds of hospital visits.

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A Christchurch teenager who has spent more of her life in hospital than out is putting her energy into helping her "second home".

Shylah Harwood, 14, suffers from Takayasu's arthritis - a rare disease that causes her arteries to become inflamed, putting her at high risk of heart attack and stroke.

The Aranui teen has endured hundreds of hospital visits; sometimes staying for months at Christchurch Hospital or Starship children's hospital in Auckland.

Despite enduring chronic pain, Shylah is now putting her energy toward fundraising for Christchurch Hospital's children's ward by making beaded bracelets, anklets, necklaces, keyrings and earrings to sell.

The money raised will go toward buying a new blood test machine for the children's ward, allowing blood to be taken using a finger prick, rather than a needle.

Shylah said she decided to start fundraising after seeing a young boy crying at Christchurch Hospital recently because he was afraid of having his blood taken by needle.

"She felt so sorry for this little boy and said 'I'm going to do something about this'," mum Cheryl Wilson said.

Shylah needed to raise about $20,000 to buy the machine, but had already made more than 100 pieces of jewellery since starting the project two weeks ago.

She would not benefit from the machine herself, as her blood was now taken through a medical port in her chest.

"It was taking up to seven shots to get a [needle] into her arm," Wilson said.

"They couldn't use her right arm because she's got no artery, and all the veins [in her left] have been used that many times that they've just knotted and scarred."

The project did help keep Shylah's mind off her condition though, Wilson said.

"She wasn't sleeping because of the pain, so she was up making these bracelets. It's good too when she's in hospital because it gives her something to do."

To donate, visit www.facebook.com/RaiseMoneyForChristchurchHospitalKidsWard

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