Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Donations carry Zahnee closer to eye op

Jade Riley says support for her daughter Zahnee Campbell, 5, has been overwhelming. Photo / Alan Gibson
Jade Riley says support for her daughter Zahnee Campbell, 5, has been overwhelming. Photo / Alan Gibson

A wave of support from generous Herald readers has pushed fundraising efforts past the halfway mark for a Bay of Plenty girl in need of a life-changing operation overseas.

The parents of Papamoa 5-year-old Zahnee Campbell have been "absolutely overwhelmed" by the response from a Weekend Herald story last month and have now booked the special operation their daughter needs to reposition her eyes.

Zahnee has grown up with a rare facial vascular hermangioma tumour - an external and internal birthmark - which stemmed from behind her right eye days after her birth and is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country.

The condition has been gradually deteriorating Zahnee's sight in her right eye, affecting her co-ordination, causing her constant headaches and putting painful pressure on her shoulders.

The procedure Zahnee needs is not available in New Zealand and her family's only option is travelling to New York for treatment by a leading ophthalmologist, costing $50,000 altogether.

But donations from readers - including a $10,000 cheque from an anonymous supporter - have seen the family's $16,000 double.

"It's been fantastic and it just shows you what people are like," mother Jade Riley said. "We've also been getting some very inspirational emails and comments from a lovely lot of people on my Facebook page, Zahnee's Cause."

Ms Riley said it was relieving to know there was finally a date for the operation - September 22 - which her family had been battling toward for years.

"At the same time, it's all very nerve-wracking for us at the moment. We're pulling it all together, but at the end of the day, she's going to have that major operation and as parents, we've done our very best."

People wishing to help can donate to the ASB account "Zahnee's Cause", account number 12-3217-0140729-00, or send messages of support to the Facebook site, Zahnee's Cause, or to Zahnee's parents at paulnjade@xtra.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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