HAPPY AND HEALTHY … The Drury family of Danielle, Sharana, Josephine, Sophie and David are ecstatic at Josephine's progress since her transplant
By LISA BACHMAYER
Josephine Drury received a new liver and a new life when she underwent 15-hour surgery, assisted by 16 different machines, at the age of five.
Diagnosed with the rare liver disease biliary atresia at birth, Josephine was prone to life threatening internal bleeding and spent nine months of the first year of her life in hospital.
Now eight, Victor Harbor's golden girl is an inspiration to her two younger sisters, seven-year-old Sophie and two-year-old Danielle.
Josephine smashed Melbourne's history for liver transplants with a rapid recovery, out of hospital after only 19 days, instead of the expected three months.
"It spun us right out that she was home already," Sharana said.
"Before (the transplant) her liver used up all the calcium so she didn't grow, but now she's growing in leaps and bounds and all she gets is growing pains…the doctors are really impressed with her down here."
The Year 3 student at Victor Harbor R-7 School has blossomed since her operation, having reduced her medication from 19 different types to just one and occasionally joining her father for a spot of motocross on weekends.
Sharana and David have been ecstatic with their brave daughter's progress since they moved to the region from Adelaide last year, seeking a more relaxed lifestyle.
"I had a beautiful head of hair when Josephine was born, but after everything happened, it ended up disappearing through stress," David said.
Sharana and David especially recall having to see their daughter reduced to an unresponsive state after she once lost large amounts of blood.
"When she stopped breathing on us, I saw the blue go past her nose," David said.
"But what we found out was not to panic; that it's better to stay calm and happy for her.
"If she was in a good mood, we found it was much better to muck around with her so that she kept calm."
The couple said they were strengthened by the experience, especially apparent when they were warned of a chance that their third daughter, Danielle, could be born with Down syndrome.
"But we lost a child before Josephine and we said 'stuff it'; if that little monkey (points to his daughter) can enjoy her life, why shouldn't this one," David said.
"If it did happen, we would know what to expect and we would have just scheduled Jo's appointments for the same day."
Now blessed with three healthy and happy daughters, Sharana and David look forward to cheering their eldest as she chases gold at this year's Australian Transplant Games in Perth.
Held every two years around the country and every four years overseas, the Transplant Games promote organ donation awareness and allows organ recipients to celebrate life and their health.
"Just becoming an organ donor is a simple thing that could save young people like Jo or older people too," Sharana said.
Having grabbed gold four years ago in Adelaide for 10-pin bowling, Josephine is looking forward to adding to her collection when she competes in October.
"We promised her she could go the Transplant Games again in the last few years but we haven't had the money and we still don't…but at the worst we'll sell the Commodore and get something cheaper if we have to," David said.
The not-for-profit Little Livers support group have set up a fund to help send Josephine and her family to Perth for the games.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can call Little Liver's treasurer, Comissa Fischer, on 8367 9521 or 0402 019 064 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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