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From: Auckland

My Story

Serrill Retimana

Serrill’s Story

After welcoming her little boy into the world, Priscilla Retimana never imagined that he would have the sickness he does.

Everything seemed fine when Serrill was first born. The only problem was that when he was sick it took a long time for him to get over the illness, and he was very frequently sick. This led to a lot of hospital admissions when he was very small. Priscilla knew something was wrong as he wasn’t getting any better. Unfortunately, despite tests and many hospital stays, it took a long time for the doctors to figure out that Serrill had Hypogammaglobulinaenemia.

Hypogammaglobulinaenemia is a problem in the immune system which means that not enough gamma globulins are produced in the blood. Gamma globulins produce antibodies which means that without them our bodies can’t fight off infections.

Serrill wasn’t diagnosed with Hypogammaglobulinaenemia for almost a year and as a result, the constant infections in his lungs led to scarring and damage called Bronchiectasis.

It was hard for Pricilla not knowing what was wrong with her little boy and seeing him go through tests and bloods as well as being so sick. Throughout this time the little family was in and out of hospital constantly as Serrill’s body struggled to fight infections, and the cough that occurred from pneumonia didn’t get any better. Finally, once the doctors had answers to what was wrong with this little boy, he was able to get the medication he so desperately needed. IV antibiotics to fight the infection, and infusions as well as blood transfusions to help with his Hypogammaglobulinaenemia.

Through all this, Priscilla was a rock for her son and a great mother, however, she was scared and tried not to expect the worst every time Serrill became sicker. The diagnosis helped a lot and even though they were in the hospital a lot, Priscilla knew her little boy had the best care.

The longest stretch they were in hospital was six months and because of this Serrill struggled to learn to walk. Starship organized for Serrill to go to a special unit called Wilson House to help him develop his muscles and learn to walk properly. Finally, Serrill was allowed to stay home and Priscilla’s next hurdle was to learn how to administer her son’s medication at home. At five years old, Serrill was growing fast and Priscilla could keep her son home to give him his medication. Before this Serrill had to go into Starship three times a week for day stays, where he would be given his infusions. The next step was checkups every two months with Priscilla administering his infusions between those dates. A specialist nurse taught Priscilla how to give Serrill his infusions of Evogam.

Since Serrill was a bit older and doing so well with his home infusions, he was allowed to go to school at five years old. The infusions helped him grow and kept him healthy. His body could now fight off infections. For a while he didn’t have to go back into hospital, and he didn’t have to have any more blood transfusions either. Priscilla was very happy with his progress, as were his doctors.

Everything was going well until last year when Serrill started to lose weight and become uninterested in food. His lung issues also worsened and Serrill had to go back into hospital. The cough that always plagues Serrill also got worse and he was struggling. Thankfully, the doctors found that Serrill’s weight loss was caused by one of his medications and he was given antibiotics to help his lungs.

Even though Serrill was discharged and allowed to return home with his mum on New Years Day, he is still having to take lots of medication as well as losing his voice for a while. The upside to his admission into Starship was that he and Priscilla were able to watch the fireworks at the Sky Tower to ring in the new year.

Now that Serrill is home he is doing very well. His cough is still there, and his lungs are still weak, but he is a little better. Serrill has to have a nebulizer once a day, a puffer and spacer as well. Priscilla was trained while they were still at the hospital to administer these things to Serrill. She says that these treatments have helped a lot, enabling Serrill to feel well enough to even start school again. In a few weeks he will go in for another checkup and then a lung and airway check and an over night stay in two months to check on his progress. Serrill has also put on weight again and the family had a dietician and a homecare nurse come to check on them when they first arrived home from hospital. Serrill has to drink a special liquid to help him put on weight but is able to live the normal life of a sixteen-year-old. He goes to school and out on school trips, like a recent one to Ambury Farm, he’s a good boy helping out his mum with chores and cleaning, he has made good friends at school and watches wrestling – Hulk Hogan and John Cena are his favourite wrestlers. Serrill also enjoys playing car racing games on Xbox and games on his iPhone. His stuffed toys Penny the Panada, Garfield, and Browney the Dog are faithful companions since birth and have been through hospital visits and tests with him over the years.

Priscilla is very happy with how healthy Serrill is now and that he is doing a lot better. She hopes he keeps being healthy and happy and will grow up to have a good job and independence.