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Thank you, taxpayers, for keeping my kids alive

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My daughter had a heart surgery last week. It was her second one, and her brother has had five heart surgeries. Years ago, her sister had 11 months of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, a stem cell transplant, and high-dose chemotherapy. I suppose that sounds shocking or genetically nightmarish. But we're just a normal Kiwi family with some paediatric health bad luck.

Over the years, I've learned a lot about being a hospital mum, about Ronald McDonald houses (shame about the name but man, is it good), and about the remarkable people that make up our public healthcare system.

There's an equipment coordinator in the children's heart ward that knows every patient's name and, in between sorting beds and monitors and the ever-important teabags, hugs the kids before and after their surgeries, whispering their names in their ears and telling them not to worry, because her colleagues are good, and smart, and have done this before.

A nurse in pre-operation knew how to calm my daughter's nerves, ask her questions unrelated to anything she had to do to ready herself for surgery, and then to remind my daughter the next day, in the hall during her lunchbreak, of a joke they shared.


© New Zealand Herald