A Taupo mother says one of the positives to come out of her eight-year-old son's near-fatal ruptured appendix was a reminder of the goodness and love in the world.
Mother-of-five Camille Davis almost lost her youngest son Wiremu more than two months ago and only a decision to rush him to Taupo Hospital and the quick intervention of medical staff saved him, although Camille was told to prepare for the worst.
Wiremu spent nearly three weeks in intensive care in Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland before he was declared out of the woods.
And with Camille forced to resign from work to care for her son, it's been a donation from the community at Wiremu's school, Waipahihi, that has tided the family over during a tough time.
Wiremu first took sick in August with vomiting and diarrhoea. Doctors initially thought it was a stomach bug but after a week's sickness and an all-night vomiting session, Camille rushed him to Taupo Hospital. Just as they arrived, Wiremu had a seizure in her arms.
"I walked in [to the emergency department] and said 'somebody help me'."
Wiremu was barely breathing, his pulse was weak and his kidneys had failed. He was seen immediately and paediatrician Stephen Bradley was called in. Camille watched in disbelief as staff worked for seven hours to try to save Wiremu's life.
"He was hardly breathing, they had to ventilate him. I was told twice he wouldn't make it."
Wiremu was flown to Starship, where doctors operated three times. Despite round-the-clock care, Wiremu was desperately ill. His blood pressure dropped, he struggled to breathe off the ventilators because there was fluid around his lungs and he required regular dialysis.
In all, he was in intensive care for 2 weeks, most of it in an induced coma. Camille was by his side 20 hours a day holding Wiremu's hand, rubbing his feet, reading and talking to him.
"Half the time, I would just sit there and cry. It gets a bit overwhelming."
He was finally discharged from Starship four weeks after his arrival.
It's been a long road back for Wiremu, who two months later is still not well enough to return to school. Camille says whether he will make a full recovery is unknown because his kidneys are still not working properly.
"He gets very tired. Something that a normal kid would do is a marathon for him at the moment."
While Wiremu was in hospital, Waipahihi School did a fundraiser, asking families to each donate what they could to support Wiremu's family, and in all $2500 was raised.
The children in Wiremu's class sent him a goodie box with activities, toys and cards to occupy him in hospital. Camille was sent messages and people in Taupo and overseas prayed for Wiremu's recovery.
The donation has been a huge help to Camille because she has had to give up her job as a youth worker to look after Wiremu. She has used the money to tide her and the family over the four-week stand down between her resignation and the benefit kicking in and says it helped the family survive an extremely tough time.
"It's kept my power going and food in my cupboard so I want to thank everybody for their support.
"It's reminded me that there's a lot of goodness and love in the world. You sometimes forget and unfortunately sometimes you have to get in a situation like this to see how much people do care. My family, whanau and friends were also a huge support during that time."
Camille says Wiremu is covered in scars but he's quite proud of them and they're hopeful he'll be back fighting fit again soon.
"We're taking things one day at a time."By Laurilee McMichael of The Taupo Weekender