Originally published in Ashburton Guardian.
Words by Susan Sandys.
When Carew six-year-old Maddie Taylor was three, she suffered acute renal failure.
Her journey of survival and recovery were helped by an avid determination to see her favourite pet again, a bantam hen.
It is a heart-warming tale, and one which has been captured for all time in a new book by world-renowned photographer Rachael Hale McKenna.
Little Loves, New Zealand Children and Their Favourite Animals, is newly released by publisher Allen and Unwin.
As much as Maddie’s parents are proud of seeing their daughter feature alongside other Kiwi children and their animals in the book, the tale it tells takes them back to a dark time.
Maddie’s mum Karen Taylor said her daughter’s illness came out of the blue. One day the threeyear-old came home from preschool complaining of a sore tummy. After two to three days of bloody diarrohea, Mrs Taylor took her to the weekend after hours doctor in Ashburton. Samples were taken and she was sent home.
“I wasn’t happy because by that night her diarrohea was straight blood,” Mrs Taylor said. She was back in at another Ashburton doctor’s surgery the next day. Within five minutes of being there they said she’s going to Starship. They could tell by looking at her that it was her kidneys.” Maddie was stabilised in Christchurch that night and the next day the whole family flew to Auckland, dad John and little brother Josh on a commercial airliner and Mrs Taylor and Maddie with the New Zealand Flying Doctor Service.
At Starship, Mrs Taylor was told, before her husband and son had arrived, that Maddie needed surgery and she had a 25 per cent chance of survival.
However, the surgery, to insert a tube so she could receive dialysis, went well. The subsequent dialysis was also a great success, and Maddie has now recovered and requires only annual checkups.
Maddie had contracted Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS), triggered by coming into contact with E Coli, from an unknown source.
The bright spot in Maddie’s life during the fortnight she spent at Starship had been thinking of her buff pekin bantam hen Huggy. She would be trying to leap out of her hospital bed so she could go home to feed and groom the bird.
Not long after Maddie came home, Huggy passed away, and Spangle an old English game bantam joined the family. Mr Taylor is president of the Ashburton Fanciers Society, and the family home on a Carew dairy farm has many pets of the avian kind, including turkeys, pigeons, budgerigars and ducks.
Spangle is Maddie’s favourite, and she likes preparing the hen for shows, washing her legs and putting on her comb dressing. And Maddie’s bedroom is proudly decorated with Spangle’s ribbons and rosettes.