Five months after she lost parts of her limbs to meningococcal disease,

Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman is finally home - just in time to celebrate

her first birthday.



smiling youngster, wearing a white fairy costume with purple trim, was

welcomed back to Waiheke Island yesterday at a birthday celebration

with family, friends and supporters.

It was a big day. A pink

and blue angel cake with gigantic wings took pride of place among the

sausages and falafel patties. And among a flurry of camera clicks,

Charlotte, revelling in the attention, buried her face in a new soft

toy, biting its nose.

The one-year-old, whose battle with

meningococcal disease resulted in partial amputations of her arms and

legs, has spent the past three months in rehabilitation at the Wilson

Home in Takapuna.

Her father, Perry Bisman, said it was great

to have her home and the family were looking forward to "getting back

to a normality of sorts".

"She's healthy and happy, and every

day she is smiling we are happy," he said. "She's obviously got a lot

of inner strength and the will to get on with it."

Surgeons were pleased with her progress and have said children who lose limbs can do surprisingly well in the long term.


who has artificial arms and legs, had learned to roll over and was

saying "mumma" and "dadda". Her anatomically correct artificial legs

were being modified to provide better balance.

Every day she wore a pressure suit, like those worn by burns patients, to help smooth out the scar tissue.


Cleverley said her daughter had come a long way and could now put a cup

to her mouth with both artificial hands. "She's doing famously."


those at the birthday celebration was Tima Uluvula, who lost her son

Junior to meningococcal disease soon after Charlotte became ill. The

two families have become good friends and Mrs Uluvula said although she

had a "little cry" when she saw Charlotte - "it brought back memories"

- she was pleased to share the celebrations.

Despite the

publicity over Charlotte's case, Mr Bisman said there had been a low

turn-out for the meningococcal vaccine on the island and he urged

parents to get their children vaccinated. "It's a synthetic vaccine.

You can't catch the disease from it. The worst thing is a sore arm - or

no arm if you don't have it."

Dr Carol Smylie of the Ostend

Medical Centre said since the programme started two weeks ago, half the

pre-schoolers enrolled with the practice had been vaccinated.

Traditionally vaccination rates were not high on the island, where many

"alternative lifestylers" opposed vaccination in general.


Bisman said the family were grateful for the support they had received,

including building work on their home. With the birthday celebrations

over they were looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home, "just us".