Where to start! My name is Sean Bridge, I was born with a primary immune deficiency and have received plasma transfusions all my life, for 27 years this was three weekly transfusions at the hospital, and for the last few years it has been by sub-cutaneous injections at home.
My health has been up and down during my life, I have spent a fair amount of time in and out of hospital, navigating primary care and figuring out who does what in the system. I have been fortunate enough to have a great family support system when I was growing up, but my journey of transitioning from a young person to an adult was difficult as you’re navigating through all sorts of challenges. When you’re young your parents look after and care for you, book all your appointments, navigate the health system for you, and advocates for you.
But when you become an adult all this changes, now it’s your responsibility. It may sound odd but it’s something that took a long time for me to come to terms with. I have learned some hard lessons from trying to ignore the fact that I have a life-long condition. The hardest lesson I learned was picking up a lung condition, simply because I wasn’t taking care of myself. This period of my life was by far the hardest for me because as you’re trying to keep on top of your health and all sorts of illnesses, you’re also having to manage your social life, sustain and make new friendships and relationships, meet expectations at your work or at university, and learn to figure out who you are. For now, I am now on the other side of that stage in my life and have learned a mountain of lessons that I’d love to pass onto those who are struggling through their transition to adulthood with immune deficiency. Today in my day-to-day life, I am grateful to be relatively healthy and to have a supportive partner and a 1-year-old daughter. In my day job, I’m a Programme Manager at a Government agency. I have a real passion for helping the community and doing work which positively impacts and brings value to New Zealanders, a passion which has led me to why I have joined the Board. Being appointed as the newest member of the IDFNZ Board is a great pleasure as IDFNZ is near and dear to my heart. I have been involved with the Foundation for about 10 years as a patient. As I have described above, I have a keen interest to help bridge the gap between the transition from a patient as a young person to a patient as an adult, so that other young people have the support and knowledge that I would’ve wanted and needed at the time. I hope to make some impactful change to the people who live with immune deficiencies.