Eighteen-year-old Kataraina Pewhairangi was told that she was not eligible to be a liver donor to save her 10-month old Teyah because the legal age to be an organ donor was 21.
Health Minister David Cunliffe used his influence to cut red tape so that a teenage mother could donate part of her liver to save her dying baby's life.
AdvertisementBaby Teyah is suffering from a rare life threatening condition called biliary atresia and according to medical opinion will die before her third birthday if she does not have a liver transplant.
New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit staff said that Ms Pewhairangi could not be considered as a donor because she was below the age required to be an organ donor.
After receiving calls and reading moving stories in the papers about baby Teyah, Mr Cunliffe stepped in to inquire into the age restriction condition. "I couldn't understand why an 18-year-old didn't have the capacity to make that decision for their daughter," he said this morning.
However he downplayed his role saying, "It has not been my role to overturn any of the guidelines. I just sought some clarifications."
Ms Pewhairangi, who was delighted at the outcome, said she was excited and just couldn't believe it. She was by her daughter's side at Starship Hospital in Auckland this morning, after Teyah's second operation in a month.
Biliary atresia is a condition that causes ducts that take bile from the liver to the gall bladder and into the bowel to not form properly. In such cases the bile is unable to drain and instead accumulates in the liver.
Teyah who needs only a part of an adult liver was put on the list for an organ last month. But there is no guarantee that she will get one in time because about 1 in 6 people who are waiting for a liver in New Zealand die without receiving one.