Young girl recovering after transplant

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This article was published 21/07/2015 (2689 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A St. James family is back at home after spending three months living in California waiting for three-year-old daughter Faith to receive a complicated kidney transplant.

Faith Konitz was born on July 27, 2011 with non-functioning kidneys. During the pregnancy, her parents were told Faith had a one per cent chance of making it to birth or surviving afterwards and were asked if they wanted to terminate the pregnancy.

“We are Christians and we have a really strong faith and we just said ‘Nope, we are not going to do that,’” Faith’s mom, Sarah, said. “She’s my fourth child and I felt like she was very strong inside of me and I just really believed she would make it to birth.”

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Macbeth Photography Little Signing Stars is hosting a book launch to support the family of three-year-old Faith Konitz.

Faith is turning four this week but she and her family have gone through many difficult and scary times to make it to where they are today. From being on oxygen for over a year to receiving haemodialysis most her life, Faith received news in February 2014 that she was listed to receive an intricate kidney transplant at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. Due to a serious blood clot in her leg, her transplant could not be carried out anywhere in Canada and the listing process took much longer than originally expected.

The family relocated to California in March this year to wait for the transplant call and on May 2, Faith went into surgery. After the transplant, she was incubated for four weeks and her mom says they almost lost her a couple of times while they were down there.

Faith is now home now and is in the early stages of recovery, and a local group is hosting a book launch on her birthday to support her family with some of the costs associated to the transplant.  

Little Signing Stars fundraiser

Little Signing Stars is a local baby sign language program founded by St. James resident and mother Serena Yong. Yong teaches hundreds of parents, babies and toddlers around Winnipeg how to use sign language to help communicate using visual gestures at early ages. Little Signing Stars became connected to Faith’s journey after Faith and her mom attended a number of classes in 2012.  

“One of the girls in our class was getting a kidney transplant and at the time her mom was wondering how to come up with another fundraiser for her daughter Faith,” Yong said.

Yong had been working on illustrative baby sign language books for over two years and thought if she worked hard to finish them, the proceeds could go towards supporting Faith and her family. Yong has finished her two books, called Daily Routines and Favourite Signs featuring photos of 38 children from her class actively using sign language to communicate.  

“They have a baby sign language dictionary in stores where parents are supposed to learn it and then teach their children but these books make it so parents can learn alongside their children in a natural and fun way,” Yong said.

She said Little Signing Stars sees children learning to sign even before they are walking or talking. The books highlight signs corresponding with day-to-day activities and are filled with photos of children who were once part of the program.

Supplied photo Little Signing stars founder Serena Yong with her two books Daily Routines and Favourite Signs

“This book launch is important to me in so many ways,” Yong said. “I know this family has been dealing with a lot of stress, the whole process of getting a kidney sounds like ‘OK you just get your kidney and that’s it,’ but it’s been a really long roller coaster ride for them and just trying to help them financially to ease at least that burden I think is the least we can do.”

Konitz is floored by Yong’s generosity and says the proceeds from the book launch will help her family immensely. While Manitoba Health paid for the transplant itself, the hospital costs and the medication, Konitz says living in Palo Alto for three months was extremely expensive, plus flying back and forth to see her three children in Winnipeg.  

The Little Signing Stars book launch to support Faith’s family is taking place on July 27 (Faith’s birthday) at Sturgeon Heights Community Centre (210 Rita St.) from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Community members and families are welcome to drop by the event and there will be craft stations and toys for children to enjoy. Each book costs $15 and all of the proceeds go directly to the Konitz family.

To find out more information about the book launch or Little Signing Stars, visit littlesigningstars.ca

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