Be a life-giver

Joanne Inzalaco with two-year-old Frankie who has a rare liver disease.
Joanne Inzalaco with two-year-old Frankie who has a rare liver disease.

Mrs Inzalaco’s two-year-old son Frankie has a rare liver disease and although he is not on the transplant list yet, and Mrs Inzalaco hopes he never will be, she wants to promote awareness of the ‘gift of life’.

‘On leaving hospital (after Frankie was born) I was told he was a little jaundiced so make sure I keep him in the light and it will go but it never did,’ Mrs Inzalaco said.

Just over a month later she had to take Frankie to the hospital again. They were told by a doctor that Frankie’s liver was enlarged and that he could be suffering from a rare liver disease called Biliary Atresia, which affects one in 10,000 children.

The disease causes inflammation within the bile ducts around the time of birth that leads to scarring of the liver.

‘We were told that Frankie’s gall bladder and bile ducts were … like bits of string,’ Mrs Inzalaco said. ‘Within a week he had a life-saving bypass operation called a Kasai at Princess Margaret Hospital, where he stayed for two weeks.’

Mrs Inzalaco said Frankie responded well to the Kasai treatment. Biliary Atresia is the main reason for liver transplants in children.

‘We just hope that he will never need one, whilst at the same time hope to promote awareness of organ donation and how important it is to those to be able to receive the gift of life,’ she said.

‘Australia has one of the lowest donation rates in the developed world.’

Mrs Inzalaco is holding a coffee morning for her family, friends and parents of Brighton Catholic Primary School on March 1. All donations will go to DonateLife and The Liver Foundation of WA to help fund a paediatric liver transplant unit in Perth.

DonateLife Week 2013 runs from February 24 to March 3.