Two sick children thousands of kilometres apart are closer to life-saving treatment because of campaigns mounted by their local newspapers.
The Courier, in the South Island city of Timaru, has raised close to NZ$7000 in its campaign to fund the travel of two-year-old Charlee Rogers and her family to Australia for critical heart surgery.
The campaign’s lead reporter Rachael Comer said she heard of Charlee’s plight from one of the paper’s advertising reps, who returned to the office emotional one day after meeting Charlee’s parents Shane Rogers and Charee Holman.
The couple had owned a mechanical workshop and a car rental business, but they told the rep they had been forced to sell one and put the other on the market because they couldn’t afford treatment for their daughter, who has nine separate heart problems.
“I and another colleague were just really moved by their story, and they’ve had a business here for 13 years and they do a lot for the community,” Ms Comer said.
The Courier held a blue-themed “mufti day” last Friday, which saw a significant turnout.
“So far we’ve raised just above $3500, and it’s just been two-and-a-half weeks. Friday’s mufti day should bring in a lot more,” Ms Comer said.
The family is likely to have to travel to Melbourne with Charlee for her potentially life-saving surgery in August.
Ms Comer said the paper was hoping to reach around $10,000 which would cover the cost of travel and more.
Readers have offered up items to sell for the fundraising effort, and The Courier’s Facebook page currently has a leadlight glass cabinet listed for sale.
The campaign, known as Charlee’s Heart, is the paper’s first, and it has had a strong response online.
“The first post we did about the family has probably been the most viewed story we’ve ever had,” with more than 12,000 clicks, Ms Comer said.
In the Hunter region of NSW, five-year-old Addalyn Clements, from Tenambit, has been matched with two separate international bone marrow donors who could save her life after a campaign by The Maitland Mercury.
Addalyn had been given six months to live without the procedure because of the two rare cancers she suffers from, and her family had not been able to find a matching donor locally.
Her parents approached the Mercury to publish a diary note about an upcoming fundraiser for their daughter, but journalists realised the story had more potential.
The paper mounted a campaign to encourage blood and bone marrow donors to come forward.
“Time was of the essence, so we really had to try and get something,” the campaign’s lead reporter Emma Swain said.
A local radio station picked up on the effort and spread the message further. Would-be donors were encouraged to come forward whether they might be a match or not, because it could save the lives of other children who needed the procedure.
More than 130 blood donations were made at in Maitland alone in one week of the campaign. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service said this represented a significant lift.
Almost 50 people joined the Bone Marrow Registry in the same period.
“That’s the power of the press. You can do so much,” Ms Swain said.
“At the end of the day not only did we help Addy’s story get out there, but we’ve saved lives because of all the blood donors.”
Word had reached Europe, and two matching donors were found in Germany.
Addalyn is currently in hospital awaiting the potentially life-saving surgery which will be undertaken in the near future.
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