Charlize Autridge has been in hospital more than 20 times, but in the last few weeks has been well enough to go on her first sleepover.
The New Plymouth 10-year-old has had serious issues with her health since she was 9 months old, but until earlier this year her family had no diagnosis for her problems.
After her story ran in the Taranaki Daily News last year, a surgeon in Tauranga, who had been working with the family through the Taranaki District Health Boad, put them in touch with Waikato pediatrician Askar Kukkady.
Kukkady is one of the leading pediatratic urologists in New Zealand and is known for separating conjoined twins in 2004, in a 22 hour procedure, the first of its type in Australasia.
The Autridges saw Kukkady and within 30 minutes they had a diagnosis, for Charlize, who has problems with both her bladder and her bowel, Charlize's father Nik Autridge said.
"This doctor can't do anything about the bladder while she has a problem with the bowel. He said we have to do something about that first. He was horrified and said: ‘Has no one done this?' and asked how come this was never diagnosed."
Over the next 12 months months some of Charlize's problems should get sorted out, Autridge said: "We're on the right track. We've finally got a diagnosis. We've never had before."
That's the good news. The bad news is one of Charlize's kidneys is working at such a low rate, she may end up on dialysis or lose a kidney.
"That's because we've had years of doing nothing and the urinary infections have left scar tissue. And now the unhealthy kidney is making the other one worse." Autridge remains frustrated with how his daughter's case was dealt with at Taranaki Base Hospital but he considers making a complaint would be a waste of time.
"I sat back and trusted these guys . . . someone needs to be accountable."
Taranaki District Health Board acting clinical services manager maternity and child health Wendy Langlands, said Charlize's case was not straightforward.
"It is very complex and has involved many specialists and clinicians over the years. We have been the point of contact to co-ordinate her care under different specialists and at more than one DHB."
These include numerous referrals to specialists visiting Taranaki from Tauranga and Starship children's hospital.
"Everyone involved has worked together to try and find a diagnosis and provide Charlize with the best healthcare and support possible, and we understand that a diagnosis has now been made which we feel is a very positive development for all involved."
Charlize has been under Paediatrics at TDHB since 2005. Since August 2006, TDHB Head of Pediatrics, Dr John Doran has been the clinician overseeing her care, including providing outpatient care on a regular basis, Langlands said.
"We would also like to acknowledge that finding a diagnosis for Charlize has been at times frustrating, particularly for Charlize and her family. As always we will continue to engage with the family and be happy to further explain any of the care or treatment provided."
- Taranaki Daily News
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