On a wing and a prayer

By Joanne Carroll

Tori Kent and her daughter, Gypsea. Photo / Supplied
Tori Kent and her daughter, Gypsea. Photo / Supplied

Gypsea Kent's mother has lost count of the times the national Air Ambulance Service has saved her daughter's life.

Three-year-old Gypsea was born with a range of congenital abnormalities including a rare gastric disorder called microgastria, which meant her stomach could hold only 10ml.

She also had an airway disorder called tracheal stenosis, which meant her entire airway was formed of cartilage rings - making breathing extremely difficult - as well as thoracolumbar scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.

Her mother, Tori, said Gypsea was flown on Air Ambulance several times during her first two years for various complications.

"We knew even though she was being transported to Starship in emergency situations, she was in the safest hands possible.

"We live in a rural part of Hawkes Bay called Kotemaori, which would be about six hours by road to Starship, but with the Air Ambulance we can get her there in just over an hour," she said.

"I don't know where she would be without it."

Tori said despite the medical complications Gypsea was a happy, well-adjusted little girl.

Gypsea had bravely battled through several major surgeries before the age of 2. She was diagnosed at 9 months and had her first operation a month later to correct her airway.

She also had a special procedure done to insert a kind of pouch to act as a second stomach - the first time the operation was performed in New Zealand.

Starship's national Mobile Phone Appeal helps raise funds for the Air Ambulance Service. Send in your old mobile phone and help children like Gypsea, or see www.starship.org.nz/phone for more information.

- Herald on Sunday

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