Not long after I first blogged about the Hottie Challenge, I received a heartwarming email from Jacqui telling me a little bit about why her family had decided to join in and help to raise funds for the Margaret Pratt Foundation.
I couldn't resist asking whether she would be interested in writing a guest blog post.
So thankyou Jacqui for allowing me to share your story....
I am fairly new to the world of craft blogs – I love reading them and getting amazing ideas for my favourite hobbies of sewing/ knitting/ crochet, but have only just started experimenting with blogging myself.
I’d really love to be part of this fantastic community, but getting started is a steep learning curve – nevertheless, I’m having a play over at Lost in The Moment.
My 11 and 13 year old daughters are currently working on their Hottie Challenge designs and when I told Cam how relevant this fundraiser was to us, she asked if I’d be able to write a bit about our experience.
So, deep breaths, here goes …
In 2007, our then 8 year old daughter Imogen (an incredibly vibrant, healthy little girl) was sent home from school in Brisbane with a headache. Over the next couple of weeks she got sicker and sicker until she was eventually diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumonia.
Imogen was ventilated in intensive care for 2 1/2 weeks, during which time we were called into the ‘little (bad news) room’ many times to be told that the pneumonia had spread throughout her entire lungs and that things were looking very grim.
We thought we were then so incredibly lucky when Imogen was able to be taken off the ventilator and was moved back to the wards.
Fast forward 3 very scary, heartbreaking months however, and she was still in hospital and requiring constant oxygen and a wheelchair.
At this stage she was diagnosed with end-stage respiratory failure and bronchiolitis obliterans (due damage from both the horrific form of pneumonia she’d had and also the pressures that had been required by the ventilator to keep her alive).
We were told that she wouldn’t be able to leave hospital and that they didn’t expect to be able to keep her alive for more than another couple of months. The rollercoaster that had been our emotions over that 4 months can’t really be described, basically we just tried to hold onto our sanity 1 day at a time. We also had 2 and 6 year old children, so ‘exhaustion’ didn’t quite describe it.
This is when the wonderful team from The Alfred hospital in Melbourne came in to our lives. A doctor and nurse flew up to see Imogen and over the next couple of weeks she was accepted onto the transplant list.
She was then flown (on the Queensland premier’s little plane as she’ll proudly tell you) down to Melbourne and stayed at the Children’s Hospital for 3 months while we waited for a donor. By this stage Imogen was spending 18 hours a day on an assisted ventilator machine.
During this time Margaret Pratt (who started the Foundation that The Hottie Challenge is raising funds for) came over to the hospital to support us and answer any questions we had about transplants – she was an amazingly generous and brave lady.
The doctors had originally planned on a heart/lung or double lung transplant from a child, but when no suitable organs were offered and Imogen’s test results were continuing to worsen, they decided to use adult cut-down lungs with her. Thank goodness for the kindest family in the world, we finally got the call one morning that it was her turn.
After 6 months living in hospital and using a wheelchair, Imogen walked out of The Alfred hospital only ten days after receiving her transplant. The first couple of days post-transplant were very long and hard, but once she got past these, her recovery was a breeze.
We stayed in Melbourne for a further 3 months for rehab, and then we returned to Brisbane just in time for Christmas. Imogen was then able to return to full-time school, and apart from an occasional short stay in hospital for minor infections she has been extremely well ever since. We now live on the Central Coast in NSW.
In August 2009 Imogen competed in the World Transplant Games on the Gold Coast – she won four gold medals in swimming and a bronze medal in running. It was a fantastic experience for her. She’s now just started high school and loves playing netball.
I’d always been a strong supporter of organ donation, but of course would have never dreamt that it would one day save my own little girl. Trust me, we were as normal a family as any family gets, so I feel so strongly that all families need to have THAT conversation and get their feelings out in the open. Now’s the time to do it, you just never know how important that decision might be in your life.