Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10-year-old needs heart and double-lung transplant

Sarah Ettridge (10) suffers from a chronic lung disease and is on the waiting list for a double heart and lung transplant. Photo: Scott Fletcher
By Bridie Jabour goldcoast.com.au

SARAH Ettridge already has a huge heart but soon she will need a new one along with a set of lungs.

At only 10 years old, she visits hospital so often she knows 'almost all the names of the doctors and nurses'.

Sarah's lungs operate at a quarter of her friends' capacity meaning simple activities like walking out to the school oval to play leave her tired and out of breath.

''It affects me because I can't play with my friends. I have to play slow and not running games,'' said Sarah, a grade five student at Caningeraba Primary School at Burleigh Heads.

''I feel like a different person (to others) ... but a cool one.''

Sarah was born a healthy baby but in a stroke of terrible luck she came down with a virus at 10 months old that left her in intensive care for three and half months.

What saved her life has also left her with her current condition, bronchliotis obliterans.

The ventilator and oxygen she received scarred her lungs and while in hospital she caught another virus which meant mucus builds up on the scarring, a condition called ectasis.

Sarah is waiting for a heart and lung transplant but she has just a three per cent chance of finding a donor.

Once she turns 12 however, her chances increase dramatically to 30 per cent because she will be able to receive an adult's heart and lungs.

Sarah knows she needs the operation and says when the day comes she will be both scared and excited.

What she is looking forward to the most is running around with her friends.

''I'll be able to run around with my friends and catch up with my brother and sister.''

The family moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast 18 months ago to give Sarah a better quality of life.

Since arriving she has received tremendous community support, particularly from the Gold Coast Community Fund.

After hearing of her difficulties in moving around at school, the community fund bought Sarah a scooter so she could play with her friends in the playground.

They have also helped parents Troy and Gail out financially providing $5000 in grocery and fuel vouchers.

The Bulletin has joined forces with the Gold Coast Community Fund, Gold Coast Suns AFL Club and Movie World to raise much-needed funds to brighten the lives of needy Gold Coast families.

The White Christmas Stocking Fund starts today and will run for six weeks helping raise money to provide a brighter Christmas for struggling families.

Gold Coast Publications managing director Steve Howard said Gold Coasters had a reputation for generosity.

''Many families are doing it tough at the moment and are not looking forward to a very prosperous Christmas,'' said Mr Howard.

''The White Christmas Stocking Fund aims to brighten the lives of needy families, so we're asking the community and businesses to get behind this fantastic campaign.''

Gold Coast Community Fund chairman Simon Bennett said money raised would help people in emergency situations, including the disadvantaged and disabled.

''Our goal is to ensure we enable people who wouldn't have a very happy Christmas, to have a better one,'' he said.

Make your donation online or at any Commonwealth Bank branch on the Gold Coast in Australia.

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