Sat August 11, 2012 8:03pm
SHARLIZE Gillard was born with a condition so rare that it doesn't even have a name.
A faulty valve in her heart was stopping oxygenated blood flowing through her body.
Doctors thought Sharlize had a more common untreatable condition and told her parents to say goodbye to their precious first child just hours after she was born because they didn't expect her to live.
Mum Meg will never forget the moment she had to kiss her newborn daughter goodbye.
"No parent wants to be invited to take photos with their pride and joy just in case she doesn't survive," Mrs Gillard said.
But Sharlize kept fighting, struggling and gasping for air, sucking in her chest as far as it would go to get oxygen into her tiny body.
Doctors realised she had a heart defect they had never encountered so they searched the world for a hospital that had dealt with a similar condition, but the only other case occurred overseas 30 years earlier. Sharlize was flown to Melbourne for open-heart surgery, but her battle for life was far from over.
After delicate surgery to remove the valve, Sharlize was put on life support for five days as her condition teetered from bad to worse and then bad again.
On the fifth day, Mrs Gillard was able to cuddle her daughter properly for the first time and from then on, Sharlize improved dramatically.
But Mrs Gillard hasn't forgotten the people at HeartKids WA, who helped her family through its darkest times. She hopes to raise more than $20,000 for the charity in a silent auction on October 20 as part of HeartKids' annual fundraising month when people can hold a "Cuppa for HeartKids".
To donate auction items such as memorabilia, food and beverage vouchers or pampering packages, call 0417 959 915 or visit the website by clicking here.
To hold your own Cuppa for HeartKids, register online at www.heartkidswa.org.au
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