Hope springs for little Violet
'She's not a very well girl but she's so happy'
Theirs should be a perfectly happy young family.
Roxana and Robbie Woodward got married, bought a house and thought having their first child would be the next exciting step in life.
But their whole world changed two days after Violet's birth.
"She was in the neonatal intensive care unit and we thought she was nearly ready to come home," Roxana Woodward says.
"Then one day we walked in to find her back in an incubator and the doctors were saying there were big problems."
Violet, now 2, was born with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease.
Function quickly deteriorated and last year her kidneys were removed. Violet now needs peritoneal dialysis to rid her body of toxins.
Her condition is inherited and the Woodwards know that if they have another child there is a one in four chance the baby will have the same problems.
Some people can have peritoneal dialysis at home. But things keep going wrong for the Christchurch child and her health is fragile so she needs to be in Auckland, close to Starship hospital and her specialists.
She is among many children all over the country who will benefit directly from Project Kidney, a fundraiser being run by the Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust in conjunction with Fairfax Media, publisher of The Press.
Money raised will help purchase four haemodialysis machines for the first dedicated Paediatric Haemodialysis Units at Starship.
Violet needs to have her spleen removed this week and will require a new liver.
She will go on the transplant list once her condition stabilises and wait for a new kidney. But donated kidneys tend to last only about 15 years. Hospitals and medication will be part of her reality for the rest of her life.
Violet's mum sold her hair salon and now spends most of her time living at Ronald McDonald House, so that she is within walking distance of Starship. Her husband continues to work in Christchurch and goes to Auckland every couple of weeks.
Violet remains a happy child through it all.
"She doesn't know any different," Ms Woodward says. "She's not a very well girl but she's so happy, so easygoing and we just try to give her as normal a life as possible."
Woodward says Violet has never walked and is only just starting to crawl.
"Dialysis gives her only about 25 per cent of the function a kidney would so she gets tired easily."
Fed through a tube since birth, Violet will have to learn to eat as well as walk once she receives a new kidney.
- The Press
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