A Kiwi mum hopes to raise thousands of dollars for brain surgery so she can save her young daughter from crippling epilepsy.

Hui Li said she had already sold her house and spent her life savings on medical bills after 2-year-old daughter Catherine developed the rare type of epilepsy.

Caused by abnormalities in her brain's development, the diagnosis was made just months after Catherine was born in 2016.

Catherine also suffered from a life-threatening cancer. Photo / Givealittle
Catherine also suffered from a life-threatening cancer. Photo / Givealittle

"What's worse, her entire brain began to shrink," Li wrote on a Givealittle page set up to raise money for her young family.


Auckland doctors then spent four months trying to treat the condition with medication but had no luck.

When one specialist privately advised Li to take her daughter overseas to seek alternative treatments, the young family flew to China.

But one month later, the first surgery in China to suppress the epileptic seizures, Catherine was found to also have a rare cancer in her tumour, called hepatoblastoma.

She needed immediate surgery to remove two-thirds of her liver - an operation with an "extremely low" survival rate for one so young, Li said.

"Looking at her lovely face, I was completely overwhelmed by maternal love and did not hesitate to sell my house to pay the hospital expenses and surgery fees," she said.

Fortunately, the operation and eight months of follow up chemotherapy were successful in controlling the cancer.

But at the same time, Catherine's epileptic seizures returned. The major surgery that followed brought brief hope that Catherine would recover as she finally crawled and stood like other children.

But then epileptic attacks returned again. Doctors have now suggested further examinations and possible surgery.

However, the four previous major surgeries and chemotherapy had "cost all the savings that my mother and I had and I also owe much money to my friends and relatives", Li said.

"What's more, the risks and costs of brain surgery are high, and it takes a long time for my daughter to recover and have regular examinations of her brain and liver."

So far, Li's Givealittle page had raised more than $202,000 for the young family after being set up at the end of last month.

"As a single mother, I only want to leave the best to my child. Catherine is very strong and I will not abandon her."

She said that anyone who donated to Catherine's funds would give the toddler another "chance to fight the disease and live a normal life again".