Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Mother of sick child moved by plight of another family with battling illness

Olivia Potter, right, with son Aiden Hayes has organised a fundraiser for another family whose child has cancer. Photo/Supplied
Olivia Potter, right, with son Aiden Hayes has organised a fundraiser for another family whose child has cancer. Photo/Supplied

A woman whose own son is battling a life-threatening disease has gone out of her way to raise money for a family whose baby was born with cancer.

Oliva Potter's son Aiden Hayes, 11, has spent most of the past nine months in hospital after being diagnosed with severe aplastic anaemia - a rare disease in which the bone marrow and the hematopoietic stem cells which reside there are damaged causing a deficiency of all three blood cell types.

It was during their time in Starship Hospital that Potter became friends with another family whose 10-month-old son Ambrose Fahey had been born with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and had undergone chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Potter was so moved by their struggle and their selflessness that she decided she had to do something to help.

"Against all the odds Ambrose is alive but far from okay. The lovely mummy Mikaela is one of the most selfless, beautiful souls I've met and her poor husband is having to work fulltime then look after the 2-year-old and 5-year-old children."

Even with her son in hospital Potter has managed to arrange a fundraising evening and silent auction with performances by Tama from Herbs, Riqi Harawera and Caitlin Smith.

"I felt sick about the whole thing because I could see they were in dire need of help," Potter said. "I don't think I've ever seen a baby so sick in my life.

"When I floated the idea to her she was absolutely blown away."

Potter said the Faheys were adamant the event should help someone else so they decided half the money raised would go to the charity Feeling Fab.

Mikaela Fahey said Ambrose was diagnosed with leukaemia the day he was born and doctors started preparing him for treatment the same day.

"It was so scary," Fahey said. "It was the worst thing any parent can go through but we were very determined to overcome it because we are very staunch Catholics. We've experienced a lot of miracles so we've put our faith and trust in the Lord and we've come through it."

Ambrose had seven months of chemotherapy and received a bone marrow transplant.

A world-wide search for bone marrow donors could not find a match for Ambrose so the best option was his father, a half match.

Even worse than the chemotherapy was the acute graft vs host disease that followed. It is a medical complication that sometimes follows a bone marrow transplant where the implanted cells try to reject the host.

The disease caused blood to come out of every opening in Ambrose's body. It also broke down his stomach wall so he could not eat or drink and his skin began to break apart.

"We actually didn't think, so many times, that he was going to make it - but he did," she said.

"He's extremely tough and extremely pleasant. He's got a very beautiful character and because of that I'm able to get through it."

The family has now been home for three weeks - the longest time since he was born. They are able to keep Ambrose's condition under control with immunosuppressants but have to make sure he is not exposed to any bugs or germs.

Fahey said she had been reluctant to agree to the fundraiser but she couldn't thank Potter enough for the lengths she had gone to help her family.

"She's amazing. I can't believe she's actually taken time out for use. She's got a very big heart," Fahey said.

Potter has juggled organising the event with looking after Aiden who also had a bone marrow transplant from a donor in Germany.

Aiden was finally discharged from hospital a few weeks ago but has since been readmitted with what doctors think is a virus, and is sicker than he ever has been.

Despite that Potter remained optimistic and was hopeful Aiden would be able to go with them to the fundraiser in two weeks.

Feeling Fab Fundraiser
When: May 19, 7pm
Where: Whoa Studios, 8-14 Henderson Valley Rd, Henderson
Price: $25 - includes wine and nibbles.
What: Silent auction, raffle and music from Riqi Harawera, Tama from Herbs and Caitlin Smith.
Details: Feeling Fab Fundraiser on Facebook

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 26 May 2017 03:22:53 Processing Time: 601ms