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Community keen to help with Elijah’s medical care

Sep 7th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News

A WELLINGTON mother hesitant to ask for help for her sick son is overwhelmed by donations of $150 from people keen to help.

Michelle Lemon is raising money for son Elijah to see a private urologist, because Wellington Children’s Hospital does not have one.

She is holding a garage sale on Sunday with donated goods, but says generous cash donations mean her son already has enough for an appointment.

“Thanks to donations and auction items already sold I’m pleased to report Elijah has his first appointment in four weeks’ time to see a urologist,” she says on Elijah’s Facebook page.

Elijah, right with Michelle, has prune belly syndrome, a rare disease where babies are born without abdominal muscles and often don’t live beyond the age of two.

There are surgeries and tests that could help him, but these have not been offered through the public health system.

Elijah is now three and a half, but despite beating a number of odds, needs ongoing medical care, and surgery.

A temporary solution would be a needle through his belly to drain his bladder, because he often goes five days without passing urine.

“I’ve seen a private urologist because I just don’t think it’s right to leave a child in pain who can’t pass urine.”

Elijah suffers constant urinary tract infections and Ms Lemon, who supports three children with Elijah’s disability allowance, cares for him full time.

“Insurance wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole because it was a pre-existing condition,” she says.

A more permanent fix would be a catheter stoma so they could drain his bladder athome.

“People with paraplegia have stomas to empty their bladder,” she says. “It’s not something that’s never been done in New Zealand.”

“It’s something that can be done. It’s not new, it’s not radical, I’m not dreaming up weird and wonderful things.”

Ms Lemon relies heavily on the support of a prune belly network in the US, who have written to Elijah’s geneticist with advice.

A surgery called muscle transposition is offered in other countries, using muscle from the legs to make abdominal muscles.

It is something Ms Lemon would like to explore one day, but right now her focus is getting Elijah a urologist to help drain his bladder.

Ms Lemon places no blame on New Zealand’s health system. She knows they are government-funded, unlike America’s university teaching hospitals.

“They don’t have that budget to play around with. Everything that happens, costs money.”

She knows of only four other cases of the syndrome in New Zealand, and says there is a lack of knowledge.

Ms Lemon plans to use the money raised from the garage sale for expensive tests that look at Elijah’s bladder function.

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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