Four-year-old Madison Merrick, who was born with a bowel outside of her body, has been waiting for a bowel donor at the Birmingham Children's Hospital, UK, for the past one year.
Madison Merrick was born with gastroschisis, a hernia that causes the bowel to protrude out from the body. Merrick, along with her 22-year-old mother, Alana, travelled 12,000 miles from Auckland to Birmingham in May 2013 since the surgery required for the little girl is not available in New Zealand. The transplantation can help Madison lead a normal life. "A new bowel would mean she could grow up to live normally -- otherwise, we're looking at a lifetime in and out of hospitals," said Alana Merrick.
Since the Birmingham Children's Hospital has an international reputation for transplant work, Alana is keen to stay in the country until Madison finds a donor. Speaking about their struggle, Mrs. Merrick said, "It is difficult living away from home for so long and not knowing when we will be returning to New Zealand." Speaking about their experience in the UK, Merrick added, "I love the city and the people here have made us both so welcome. I couldn't have asked to come to a better place while Madison waits for her treatment."
Madison Merrick, according to her mom is a "happy little girl, who loves dancing, dressing up and playing with her dolls and toys." Mrs. Merrick said that apart from a few relatives, she has also made quite a few friends in the UK. "Birmingham Children's Hospital is widely regarded as one of the best in the world and I am delighted she is in the best of hands here. Nobody knows how long it will be before the right match comes up. It is a waiting game. A transplant would be something worth waiting all the time in the world for," said Alana Merrick.
Since Alana is not eligible to work in Britain, she is working hard to raise money for their daily expenses. Through a Facebook Appeal for Madison, Alana got in touch with her friend Joanne Franks, who is now leading the campaign. "Madison is a lovely girl and it has been so difficult for them both to come to a new country on their own. I wanted to do all I could to help them settle in and raise money for Alana and Madison's living expenses," said Franks.
Even if Madison Merrick receives the bowel that she has been waiting for, she would still have to stay in Birmingham for at least six months to ensure that her body accepts the new organ.