New struggle for little girl with rare disorder

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:00 09/08/2013
Brennagh McKay
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
BRENNAGH MCKAY: The little girl is now seven, and facing more health challenges.

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Overcoming the odds is in Feilding youngster Brennagh McKay's nature.

But the 7-year-old, who was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder and given a 1 per cent chance of reaching the age of 10, is facing her biggest battle yet.

Brennagh was admitted to Palmerston North Hospital after becoming ill about four weeks ago, her caregiver Jackie Signal said.

"Her intestine had twisted and started rotting and she needed surgery," she said. "In the end they cut out a portion of her bowel and her small intestine.

"She was in intensive care on life support in an induced coma - they reckon it was just one of those things that just happen, on top of the condition she already has."

Brennagh was born three months prematurely with a hole in her heart, chronic lung disease and other complications.

Although she was sick as a baby, doctors did not recognise her symptoms until she was 9 months old.

She was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder called Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome.

The median life expectancy for children with the disorder is five to 15 days.

"Brennagh was going to school and now has a lot of friends," Signal said. "She has her little moments where she gets sick, but this knocked her pretty far."

Brennagh spent the past few weeks in Starship children's hospital, with her mother by her side and her father looking after her four brothers.

"She was having problems with her kidneys and liver shutting down, she's slowly improving with that but is monitored every day," she said. "I can't believe how much she has fought through all this - she's blown me away."

Signal said Brennagh had already survived pneumonia and swine flu.

Now more operations are needed - a risk with her condition.

"Once she's well enough they're looking at other ways to feed her after losing her bowel and intestines," she said.

Signal has set up a webpage to help support the McKay family while Brennagh has treatment.

* You can donate to Brennagh at givealittle.co.nz/cause/brennaghmckay

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