14 March 2024

Laurah's mum needs a car for the long road ahead to save her life

| Dione David
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Mum and daughter

If a mother’s love were enough, Laurah-Rose Geenen would already be well. Photo: Kylie Smith.

As Moss Vale woman Kylie Smith prepares for the workup to determine whether she can donate a kidney to her youngest daughter, Laurah-Rose, she utters a sentence that hits home for most parents.

“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my child.”

That includes putting the call out on GoFundMe calling for donations to help purchase a used car to transport Laurah to Campbelltown Hospital, Bankstown Hospital and Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where she receives life-sustaining treatments for the conditions that have led to end-stage renal failure.

Laurah, now 21, was just four weeks old when doctors handed down her diagnosis.

“I was at home one day giving Laurah her bottle and I noticed she was going a bit blue around the mouth,” Kylie says.

“She was my fourth child, so I knew something wasn’t right.”

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An ambulance took her to Campbelltown Hospital, where a paediatrician discovered she had extremely high blood pressure and had been in heart failure for about 24 hours. Laurah was transported to Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick where she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and hypertension.

For Kylie, who had a son in a wheelchair with a life-limiting condition and two other young daughters, it was devastating.

Laurah spent the first seven months of her life at Randwick and has been in and out of hospitals since, for regular appointments, tests and treatments.

Following a series of life-threatening infections, years of peritoneal dialysis have given way to hemodialysis, requiring three trips a week to a hospital an hour away. This is on top of regular appointments and tests about two hours away in preparation for a kidney transplant.

“Without it, her beautiful young life will end,” Kylie says.

Young woman in hospital

Laurah has been in and out of hospitals every year of her life. Photo: Kylie Smith.

Even if Kylie is found to be a viable donor, the family has a long road ahead before a transplant can take place. In the meantime, public transport from the Southern Highlands is not a viable option to keep up with appointments at three hospitals, and taxis are about $300 each way – a cost-prohibitive exercise for the single mum on a carer payment.

“I’ve done the best I can as a mum. It’s been hard. There are times I just have to sit in my room and cry. It’s hard to describe the feeling of helplessness when you’re watching your child suffer, and your best efforts only go so far,” she says.

“I have watched Laurah go through the worst of the worst; I have held my girl in my arms whilst she cries and tells me she just wants to die. I have watched my girl suffer mentally, physically, emotionally.

“I am a worried mum, reaching out to the community for help.”

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Kylie hopes that after the kidney transplant, her daughter will no longer be plagued with the lethargy and illnesses keeping her from a normal adolescence and leading to mental ill health.

“When you’re 21, you want to go to the beach with your friends or go to a nightclub. Laurah’s unable to do any of that,” Kylie says.

“One day, she hopes to become a nurse or study criminology. But most of all, she just wants to feel healthy. I want that more than anything, too.”

At the time of publishing, Kylie and Laurah had reached just over $5000 of an $8000 goal. You can help out on GoFundMe by donating or spreading the word.

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