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My Story

Charnisa Kitekeiaho

My name is Charnisa, I’m 15 years old. I had a liver transplant when I was 6 years old that changed my life. This is my story.

I was a young, healthy, normal kid doing the things all kids do. Then, one day, I got very sick. My tummy started to hurt so I told my mum. She took me to the doctors for a check-up and they gave me medicine to take. However, as time went by it kept getting worse. One day it got so bad I was rushed to the doctors. That’s all I remember. When I awoke from what I thought was a dream, I was in the hospital. My mum and dad were standing by my bedside staring at me through tears. I wondered why.

What I didn’t know was that I’d had a liver transplant to save my life. The doctors later told me that my health had declined so fast that they had to operate. I spent three months in hospital recovering, learning to walk and trying to be normal again.

During that time, we lived at the Ronald McDonald House where we met people and made so many friends. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us. I have fond memories of them and miss them.

After my time at Starship, I was ready to go home again to my family and it felt good to be home again. During that time my family and I moved to the South Island.

I attended Marlborough Girls’ College in Year 11. I did rather well with my school work despite constantly going to the doctors and hospital for regular check-ups and the occasional mini operation.

Life seemed to be going fine, until 26th October 2016. I was back in Starship again. This time it was different. My liver took a turn for the worse. The liver I’d had since the first operation was starting to shut down. The pain started to become worse and at times unbelievable despite the pain relief I was given.

Even though it had been very hard for me, I still smiled through the pain. Three weeks later I struggled to smile. I felt my strength slipping away and the pain was increasing. My family, especially my mum and aunty, did their best to keep me smiling and focused. But I could see that their hearts were breaking. I needed another transplant and fast. My life was slipping away and my smile was fading.

Finally, we received the news we had been waiting for; a liver had come.

December 5th I went in for the operation and my family waited anxiously for my return and safety. When all went well there was a huge cry of relief as they were told the good news.

Since then I’ve had many visitors and I know more will still come. I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, that day is uncertain. All I can do is focus on the now. As I lie here in bed, the nurse busy with her notes, I play Candy-Crush on the iPad. My dad is at my bedside looking at me writing my story through his eyes as he remembers and recounts what I’ve been through.

This is my story, my life. My smile has returned again.

Charnisa January 2017

Charnisa is a courageous young lady and has continued to recover well from her second liver transplant. Spending three months in Auckland recuperating she has been kept occupied with treats and outings as she regains her strength. Her goal is to return home soon, continue her studies and to have a career as a medical professional.

Charnisa – you will make an awesome Doctor!

Photo – Charnisa enjoying a well-deserved treat spending the day at Rainbows End