Named after a song composed by her tīpuna Dr Hirini Melbourne, Pīpīwharauroa has survived a liver-transplant at three weeks old, the youngest to ever undergo this operation in New Zealand. Her mother Ashley Steedman-Prip told Kawekōrero she feels blessed very proud of her three-month-old daughter.
Pipiwharauroa Te Rangimoaha Wallace had to then undergo a second surgery two days after the transplant after some complications. Steedman-Prip's sister Mina Steedman-Prip was a match and selflessly donated a piece of her liver to her niece. It was a sacrifice that left the family feeling both grateful and blessed.
"Having your baby go through surgery being the youngest baby in New Zealand and then your sister also putting her life on the line to save her niece so it was all really overwhelming but so amazing at the same time that it could be done through our whānau," says the mother.
Pipiwharauroa's Aunty Mina has a scar down the centre of her abdomen where the surgeons removed the liver, and it's a scar, she boasts, is the most beautiful part of her now because it connects her to her niece.
"Without our whānau support, Joey and I would not know where we would be and also the Ronald McDonald house, without them as well, we had somewhere where we could call home while we were going through this traumatic experience," says Ashley.
A Givealittle page has been set up since January and has raised $5,550 in an effort to help ease the pressure for baby Pīpīwharauroa's whānau.