Quinnie is the face of the 2020 Good Friday Appeal! With a cheeky grin and invincible attitude, Quinnie brings a voice to patients at the RCH, and you can make a difference for patients like her by supporting this year’s Good Friday Appeal. Donate now.
Stethoscope in hand, needle at the ready, Dr Quinnie confidently promises this won’t hurt a bit. Her doll Cookie is about to undergo a kidney transplant, an incredibly complicated and life-saving surgery that six-year-old Quinnie is now a pro at, having undergone one herself almost three years ago.
Quinnie’s RCH journey started when she was just a few hours old, her dramatic arrival into the world was something that parents Clare and Jarrod weren’t expecting. At 34 weeks gestation and despite a relatively straightforward pregnancy for identical twins Harriet and Quinnie, Clare woke one morning in shock, one of the girls wasn’t moving and she could barely feel the other. A trip to the hospital confirmed their worst fears, Harriet had passed away from the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and in two other places and Quinnie was in extreme danger as a consequence. After an emergency caesarean both twins were born, they lost Harriet and Quinnie wasn’t breathing. Her tiny body was swollen with excess fluid. Quinnie was born with severe kidney damage and she was going to need emergency interventions to survive.
Kidneys perform crucial functions that enable the human body to survive. They maintain overall fluid balance in the body by filtering minerals from blood and waste materials from food and medications. They create the hormones needed to produce red blood cells for bone health and blood pressure regulation.For Quinnie, her failing kidneys were life threatening. As her tiny body swelled with extra water and waste, the family were urgently transferred to The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), where she was immediately placed in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Too young and unstable to be a candidate for a kidney transplant, clinical teams knew her best chance of survival was to place her on dialysis, a physical device which takes over the role of kidneys by filtering and purifying the blood.
Life-limiting and requiring expert clinical administering, Quinnie spent the first three and half months of her life at the RCH connected to dialysis under constant medical supervision to monitor her condition. Clare and Jarrod, with the support of family and friends, relocated to Melbourne from Geelong to be at her bedside and played an active role in her daily care.
When Quinnie was finally stable enough to leave hospital, Clare and Jarrod took their nearly four month old baby home for the first time where they meticulously continued her medical care. Cuddles and storytime were interspersed with dialysis sessions and specialised procedures in the spare bedroom which had been converted into a sterilised medical suite.
The family quickly fell into their new routine of intensive medical treatment, both with admissions to hospital and dialysis at home, regularly running the risks of infection and complications. For Clare and Jarrod, the most important thing was to get Quinnie strong enough to be a candidate for a kidney transplant.
Although humans are born with two kidneys, with the right care they can live a healthy life with just one, so as soon as it was possible, Jarrod and Clare underwent the necessary tests to determine if they could donate a kidney to Quinnie. The devastation of learning that neither of them were a match was a complete shock and in desperation they began exploring further options, turning to family members for support.
For Jarrod’s dad Rod, known affectionately as Pa to Quinnie, it was a no brainer – if he could help, he wanted to. Tests indicated that although he wasn’t a match to Quinnie, he was a potential match for another candidate, giving him the power to ultimately save two lives via the Paired Kidney Exchange. This nation-wide program, pioneered in Australia in 2010, was established to match healthy donors who were unfortunately incompatible with their recipient with those in a pool of other incompatible pairs. Once a match is found, kidneys are exchanged between pairs to allow each recipient to receive a kidney from a matching donor.
Aged two, full of smiles and adventure, and now strong enough to accept a donor kidney, the family waited desperately for a match for Quinnie. The call came when the family were actually admitted at RCH. Clare jumped on the bed with excitement. An incredibly complicated procedure requiring precision timing and the best medical minds, four donor surgeries were undertaken simultaneously to allow the exchange of kidneys and four transplants. The family held their breath for both Pa and Quinnie, hoping for the best.
Thanks to the expert care from her clinical team at the RCH, Quinnie shone through the surgery and nearly three years later she is still delighting her family, clinicians and RCH staff with her bravery, resilience and charm.
Quinnie isn’t quite out of the woods yet and will continue to attend the RCH for regular appointments until she graduates to adult care. With a weakened immune system she’s at regular risk of infection, while there is the possibility her body could reject her new kidney without vital anti-rejection medications. After years of medical interventions she also regularly sees specialists at the hospital in the hope that she can reduce her reliance on medical interventions for nutrition.
And for Quinnie, the best medication for when she’s feeling low arrived in 2018 with little brother Solomon, the two cheeky partners in crime falling pride of place in their parents’ life. Clare and Jarrod hope that Quinnie is happy in whatever she chooses to do with her amazing life. They know she has gone through the biggest battle of her life and that nothing will stop her. They hope she always remembers Harriet and that every time she sees a butterfly or a rainbow she thinks of her sister.
Thanks to your generous support, we can make a difference to children like Quinnie and support world-leading care at the RCH.Donate now