Little battlers: A second chance at life

Last updated 15:00 07/02/2013
FIGHTER: Izzy is waiting for a liver transplant.

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Isabelle (Izzy) Amber Ng was born on April 27, 2012 at Wellington Regional Hospital.

She was a small baby, weighing only 2.52 kg at birth. She was also a little jaundiced and had to stay in Neonatal ICU for the first few days of her life. After her jaundice appeared to have cleared, Izzy was allowed to go home with her parents.

When she was five weeks old, during a routine visit to a pediatrician, the doctor noticed that Izzy was still jaundiced so asked for her to be tested. The results came back clear, but Izzy's family doctor asked for another test a week later just to ensure her jaundice continued to improve, but her bilirubin levels (substances in our blood that cause jaundice) had actually gone up.

Izzy was referred to Wellington Children's Hospital and after a series of tests, Izzy was dignosed with a condition called biliary atresia - a rare liver disorder that affect newborns and young babies, in which bile can not drain from the liver, eventually causing liver failure.

The only effective treatment is a liver transplant, but a surgical procedure called the Kasai procedure could be performed to allow bile to drain from the liver to provide temporary relief. The Kasai is most successful if performed on babies under six to eight weeks old.

About nine weeks old, Izzy was referred to Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital for the Kasai procedure.

Unfortunately, the surgeons could not proceed as they found a lot of blood vessels surrounding the bile ducts, and proceeding would only endanger her life. These blood vessels were the result of her biliary atresia. As such, her only hope for treatment is a liver transplant.

Izzy returned to Wellington with her parents, and was put on a strict diet of specialised baby formula to try and get her to grow as much as possible in preparation for a transplant later on.

In August 2012, Izzy returned to Starship Hospital to be assessed for a liver transplant, and she was listed on the New Zealand liver transplant waitlist.  Izzy has remained in Auckland with her parents since, having to be warded at Starship Hospital a couple of times due to poor health and risks of infections and complications.

Ever since Izzy was first referred to hospital, she has had to undergo many painful and uncomfortable procedures. Blood tests are a regular occurance and she had to undergo several procedures while in Starship Hospital that required her to be put under general anaesthetic.

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Despite all the pain and suffering, Izzy keeps on fighting for her life, and she has surprised her doctors and nurses with her fighting spirit, despite getting sicker by the day. She also has a beautiful smile.

Izzy is still on liver transplant waitlist, waiting for the perfect gift of life to appear so that she can have a second chance at life.

You can follow Izzy's progress on a Facebook page set up by her family.

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