After Isabella was born at Victoria Hospital, doctors discovered that she suffered from what is called “leaky kidneys”. Professor Mignon McCulloch, a paediatric kidney doctor and intensive care specialist at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital explains that Isabella’s kidneys leak protein so they become swollen. This can be dangerous for her health and her growth.
The Grassy Park family have been in and out of the Hospital since Isabella was just two months old. The toddler had to have one of her kidneys removed so that her condition would not affect her growth. When she is not in the isolation unit in the renal ward, Isabella is in the paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She also has to undergo regular dialysis, a procedure that purifies the blood to compensate for the kidney’s inability to function. Despite all of this, Isabella has an infectious smile and a cheerful disposition that doesn’t reveal any of the discomfort or pain she experiences on a daily basis.
Chantal, who sleeps with her daughter in the isolation unit in the renal ward and never leaves her side, says it’s very hard when her daughter is in the ICU. “When she is in intensive care, I can’t sleep next to her because the babies need to be near equipment and monitors. I know that she is being looked after, but I prefer it when I can be with her constantly.” A devoted mom, who just wants to see her little girl lead a healthy childhood, she barely takes her eyes off her daughter. She can interpret every movement, every look and every sound, living her child’s experience with her.
Chantal is currently undergoing a myriad of tests to see if she will be a viable donor so that she can give her beautiful little girl a healthy kidney. This is a long and tiring process, but Chantal isn’t interested in complaining. She is a mother who will fight for the health of her child.
“I will do whatever I need to do so that she gets better.”
With her other children being cared for by her sister, it’s now a waiting game that Chantal has no choice but to play.
Some days in the Hospital are easy and Isabella is bright, cheerful and eats all of her food. Sometimes the days are tough and Isabella is in pain, tired and refuses to eat. For Chantal, it’s what being a mother is all about.
Professor McCulloch says, “Isabella is such a lovely baby with great parents. Unfortunately she suffers from an extremely difficult condition and is the kind of patient who can only be cared for by the team work of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital where there is a large team of kidney experts consisting of doctors, nurses, dietitians and other specialist staff.”