Donated skin helps Elliot heal
To my donor, I hope you know how amazing I think you are. You helped me get better and back to my family.
I contracted Meningococcal Disease in September 2012. I was three-and-a-half-years old. I don't know how I got it, but I lost all my toes and some parts of two of my fingers because of it. The doctors at Starship didn't think they could save my legs. After a month I was transferred to Middlemore Hospital. Eighteen months later, thanks to a team of amazingly talented people and over 100 operations, I can walk on my own two legs.
I don't remember much about before being sick. I remember getting my toe nails cut by mum. I hated that. I remember the kindergarten I went to but not the children. I remembered how my bed at home felt and all the Lightning McQueen toys on it. I remember I had a dog called Rosie but I couldn't remember what she looked like. I remembered which aisle to take to find the toy section at The Warehouse, but I don't remember going shopping with Mum at Pak n Save. I was slowly forgetting about all the things that I loved at home.
After a year in hospital I didn't want to go home anymore. I had a new family of people who had helped me get better. I had Cheryl in the playroom who would come play with me when I needed to get a new IV line put into my arm. I had Tania who was going to be leaving soon to have her baby, but she would come back. I had Margarette who would come and sit down and have a talk to Mum and me. I had cheeky Lou Lou's Mum who would bring me in salt and vinegar chips or popcorn that she would get from the night market. I had my Petra in theatre who I would see nearly every time I had an operation, unless she was on holiday. I had my Dr Wei Lin who wore his cool leather jacket, I had Nicola at the cafe who would make my cuppa tea with one sugar just how I liked.
But my favourite was nurse Teysha. I loved it when she was my nurse at night time. She would come and have a dance with me. When it was time for my medicine, she would put on the "sexy and I know it" song and she would dance around my room and I would bounce up and down on my bum on the bed. She was the best.
I remember the day that the bandage on my arm rolled down and I saw something had been stapled to one of my sores. I asked my nurse what it was and she said that someone had donated their skin to help mine grow back. I told Mum that my nurse was silly because people don't have their skin stapled on them, it's glued. Mum told me that there were patches like that all over my legs too. I never saw them because when the bandages finally came off there were no more staples, I was back to glue again.
Back home my two brothers had been living with my Nanny for the year because Mum was in hospital with me and Dad would work away in Australia for five weeks and then have a week at home. They had changed schools, they had to go into childcare before and after school and they had to stop most of their out-of-school activities because Nanny worked from 7am-4pm. Ian used to love school, but at his new school he was very different and he would get picked on by older kids. Mum had missed Angus's first day and year of school because that was when I got sick.
Dad was working extra long shifts of 12-15 hours a day and working 8-12 weeks to pay for the new wheelchair ramp and decking we were getting built at our house for when I finally got out of hospital. But a week before Christmas 2013, Dad had a heart attack and needed a triple bypass. He had his surgery at Waikato Hospital on New Years Eve and Mum spent the next week going between Waikato Hospital with Dad and Middlemore Hospital with me.
I had two Christmases, two birthdays and an Easter in Hospital. For my first three months at Middlemore, I used to have surgeries every second day as well as attending physiotherapy and psychologist appointments weekly. Apart from the amputation surgeries, I have had countless skin graft surgeries and a major surgery to remove the muscle from my right inner thigh to be put into my left heel to close it up. I know I will need more surgeries in my future. I take tons of different medicines that do different things to help me.
My name is Elliott. I have been out of hospital and at school for a month now. I love playing in the sandpit and on the monkey bars. My teacher has nicknamed me Monkey. My two older brothers are in the class next to mine. My older brother Angus pushes me around in my wheelchair at lunch and play time. My oldest brother Ian is always growling me for playing on the playground because I get hurt a lot. I just want to do what all the other kids are doing. I love school. I have lots of friends who help me when I can't quite do things by myself. I want to run as fast as my brothers so I can catch them when they take my toys off me. When I grow up I want to be a nurse, a doctor or a magician.
To my donor, I hope you know how amazing I think you are. You helped me get better and back to my family. My Mum never believed in being a donor because of her cultural beliefs, but because of you, she had her driver licence changed to say '4c. DONOR'. Dad laughed at her. A week later, Dad had not only his New Zealand Driver Licence changed to say 'DONOR' but registered his wishes on an Australian Donor card as well.
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