Pipiwharauroa Wallace is a survivor

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A Māori newborn girl is the youngest ever in Aotearoa to receive a liver transplant.

Pipiwharauroa Wallace is now recovering after undergoing the transplant at less than four weeks old.

Dubbed the 'miracle baby', Wallace is a survivor.

Her mother, Ashley Steedman-Prip, agrees with the nickname, “Considering what her original diagnostic was, the things we had to hear that may happen and to see her now... she is by far a miracle baby.”

Born on the 24th of December, Wallace showed jaundice at 2 weeks and was rushed from Tokoroa Hospital to Waikato Hospital and then Starship Hospital.

Steedman-Prip says, “Every time we got to a brand new hospital it was like the news was getting worse and worse and worse.”

She says the burden was made easier with the support of whānau.

“That's where our whānau come in and there was so much by the time we got [to Starship].  They were all here waiting for us so that was a massive help.”

After being on and off the donor list, she received a liver transplant on the 23rd of January from her Aunty Mina Steedman-Prip, who flew over from Australia to have the operation.

Ashley Steedman-Prip says her sister wouldn't budge on the decision, “I didn't even have the option to say 'are you sure? This is what's going to happen and it's going to change your life.'  She just didn't let me she was like 'just shh, I'm doing it'. It was massive.”

Wallace is a true battler, although not out of the woods yet.  A low immune system makes her susceptible to infection.

Her mother explains, “She will be vulnerable to catching viruses and bugs, anything that kind of passes her way, but as she grows older [the liver] will grow stronger with her and hopefully she'll able to fight them off on her own."

A givealittle page has received over $5,000 in donations to support Steedman-Prip and partner Joey Wallace as they care for their daughter on her road to recovery. 

Steedman-Prip says she wants her daughter to lead a healthy, happy and normal life.