Imagine always feeling horrible, itchy, unwell. You go through a barrage of tests; blood tests, ultra-sound, poking, prodding. Imagine being strapped to a table unable to move for an hour while a massive machine hovers over you scanning your body. Then you face invasive tests and risky, life-saving surgery; no food or drink for hours awaiting your operation; tubes and machines surround you when you wake in intensive care.
Imagine enduring all this and more, at only two-and-a-half months of age.
Such was the experience of Charlotte Cross. Now an energetic eight-year-old with an amazing smile, Charlotte was born with biliary atresia (BA) — a rare condition in which fluids fail to properly drain from her liver, causing progressive damage and eventual liver failure. BA occurs to 1 in 20,000 infants; there is no known cause and no cure.
Charlotte has gone through a lot already and there’s no telling for sure what lies ahead. One statistic states that four out of five kids with BA will require a liver transplant by age 20. Charlotte’s mom, Diana, says the possibility of transplant brings a whole new set of issues — waiting for a match, surgeries, infections, medications, new illnesses, etc.
Research, Diana says, is essential if there is ever hope of allowing kids with liver disease to live normal lives.
Meeting Charlotte (or Char, as she is affectionately known to her friends), one would never know that she has endured so much — she is a fighter. She is also a dancer, loves gymnastics and swimming, and is a super big sister.
This August, Char, along with her family and friends, will take steps to end liver disease. The Stroll for Liver is the major fundraiser for the Canadian Liver Foundation all across Canada.
Here in Manitoba, the Stroll will be held at A Maze In Corn near St. Adolphe on Aug. 23, rain or shine, complete with entertainment, activities and prizes. More teams are welcome, as are volunteers.
Last year, Char’s team, Charlie’s Angels, raised the most money in Manitoba, and ranked No. 10 in the country.
As team captain, Diana says the goal is to raise awareness about liver disease and work toward a cure. To join the Stroll for Liver, to donate, or to find out more about liver disease, go to the Liver Foundation website at liver.ca
Sharon Pfeifer is a community correspondent for Westwood. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org