Thursday, June 9, 2011

Imogen's Story


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.

30 comments:

trudi@maudeandme said...

Had me in tears. I'm so glad it has a happy ending.

Taylor Made said...

Thanks for sharing such a heart warming story.

Sheep Rustler said...

Such a sweet story. In my family we have long talked about these issues (as well as adults signing up on the Register) so we all know what everyone's explicit wishes are. Good luck to everyone on a list and those living with new organs!

When my best friend died 20 years ago we took some slight comfort in the fact that he saved five lives and gave sight to two more people.

willywagtail said...

Thank you for sharing. Cherrie

Jennie said...

I was in tears reading this , this morning. I did show it to Eva too.

Thanks for posting this, big hugs.XX

Fiona said...

What a beautiful story of a brave little girls' battle. Just enforces all of the reasons why I am an organ donor. Thanks so much for sharing. Hugs - Fee XX

Stomper Girl said...

Thank you for sharing your amazing story Jacqui. I've never met you but I felt so proud of Imogen winning those medals as I read it.

sister outlaws said...

Beautiful Imogen! Fantastic! Another life saved through organ donation.

(By the way, we sister outlaws also have a young organ transplant recipient in our brood!)

Julianne said...

How amazing that Imogen could walk from the hospital ten days after the transplant! What an incredible life saving operation it is. Hope everyone is signed up to the organ donor register!!

Leonie @ Cuppa and Cake said...

Perfect. Well written and hard to write. xx

Tas said...

As a parent of a child the same age as Imogen, I can't imagine what your family have been through.
So glad for the happy ending. Blessings to you and your family.

teddybearswednesday said...

what a beautiful and wonderful story.
thanks for sharing it Cam, and Imogen.
xo

Wombats Picnic said...

An amazing story, thank you so much for sharing, I too was tearing up. As a mom of three I can't even fathom what this would be like to experience. So glad there has been a happy ending in this case. I have registered as an organ donor and have made sure to tell my family (including my children) that I am one. I hope more people consider giving such a gift. Cyndy

ZippyZippy said...

What a star Imogen!
Thanks for sharing your story Jacqui, what a roller-coaster ride, so glad for a happy ending.
Here's to more gold medals!

flowerpress said...

Thank you Jacqui for sharing your story with us.
I was so glad to read the happy ending, though I can guess what a truly terrifying time your little family has survived.
And thanks Cam for all your organising, I'm even more inspired now to be part of the hottie challenge :-)
Hoping to post mine tomorrow!

Ady said...

Thank you for sharing this touching story of a very brave young lady and her equally brave family's experience. The happy ending is hugely encouraging and I am glad to be a part of a challenge that is contributing to such a fantastic cause.

Cass said...

Awesome post, thanks for sharing

Jacqui said...

Thanks for all your lovely comments everyone - I hate dragging all those memories up, but I share our story sometimes as I know otherwise people just wouldn't necessarily realise how relevant organ donation is to everyone. It's absolutely amazing at heart lung transplant clinics just how many people are there - it's a long, long wait. And we all think of our donors as absolute heroes. At the transplant games each year the hugest cheer of the week (and lots of teary eyes)is always when the group of donor families march on in the parade. Thanks for asking me Cam.

Adele - A Lass from Downunder said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes too, Jacqui. Thank you so much for sharing it us. I'm so pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the Hottie Challenge.

yardage girl said...

Oh Jacqui - my heart broke a tiny bit for you and your family when I read this post, but I am so pleased the outcome was such a good one for you all. Thanks so much for sharing.

Linda said...

wow thank you Jacqui for sharing your story with us about Imogen I held my breath through the whole post, what a heart wrenching journey you have all been on

Miss Prudence said...

I did exactly what Linda did! So glad this had a positive ending. What an intense experience, thank you for sharing it.

michelle said...

you would have to be one of the bravest women ever. to be able to tell your story in such an eloquent way when i am certain that each word is like a stab in your heart. i am so glad that your beautiful girl is doing so well. good luck to you and your family. well done on your amazing writing. i would say that you have a lot to offer the blogging community

SewnBySaliba said...

What a beautiful and brave young lady is Imogen. Thank you to Jacqui for sharing such a personal story. My mother has 40% lung capacity following her battle with leukaemia; it has been so hard watching her struggle, I can't fathom watching a child go through it!!

Anna Bartlett said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. To hear of a child who has been saved and a real family's journey is both heartwrenching and heartwarming.

Carolyn said...

Such a heart warming story. Well done on your amazing writing.

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Carly Findlay said...

What an amazing story - Imogen is a star. I am so glad she found a donor. Thank you for sharing.

Cindy said...

I know I'll save a life one day, being an organ donor.
This story has just made me feel so happy I'm on the list.
You're a lucky family.
All the best x

Miss G said...

thank you for sharing your amazing story. So glad I am an organ donor for this reason. xx

sewjourn said...

What an amazing story - thank you so much to Cam and Jacqui for allowing us to hear it.