Teenager makes a wish for charity

Paying it forward . . . Make-A-Wish recipient Caroline Quirey (14), of Wingatui, displays a care package created by her and her friends (from left) Philippa King (14), Sophie Thorburn (13), both of Mosgiel, and Alexia Jones (13), of Wakari, in central Dunedin on Saturday.The packages will be sent to a Fijian charity. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE 

The wish of a Wingatui girl to repay the kindness she was shown when she was sick is a step closer to being granted.

Caroline Quirey (14) said when she was named a Make-A-Wish recipient she decided to use it to benefit children in need in Polynesia.

The Taieri College pupil searched the internet for a suitable benefactor and discovered charity Homes of Hope Fiji.

The charity, which was founded in Fiji in 1996, works with victims of forced sex and their children.

Caroline was shocked to read many of the victims were of a similar age to her.

“I felt like I needed to help them out.”

She decided to grant her wish to benefit others because of the generosity and kindness she was shown when she was sick.

“So much was given to me – I felt other people could benefit more from the wish than me.”

Using the wish to bring happiness to others made her happy.

Caroline wrote to Homes of Hope and asked them what they needed, and made a list of items.

Make-A-Wish New Zealand put a call out and businesses gave items such as books, chocolates, cosmetics, dummies, nappies, sanitary products, stationery and toys.

Boxes of the items were sent from Auckland to Bayleys Dunedin office in the Octagon, where, on Saturday, Caroline and a crew of volunteers unpacked boxes of the items and created 100 care packages – 50 to be given to babies and young children and 50 for young girls and mothers.

The packages were expected to arrive in Fiji and be given to the victims and their children by the end of the month, a Make-A-Wish New Zealand spokeswoman said.

In 2016, Caroline’s bone marrow stopped working and she was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disorder, aplastic anaemia.

She was kept alive through blood and platelet transfusions.

Then aged 11, she spent months in the care of the children’s haematology and oncology ward in Christchurch Hospital, the Dunedin children’s hospital and Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland.

Eventually a bone marrow donor match was found in Europe, out of a worldwide register of 6million people.

Caroline had chemotherapy at Starship and spent weeks in an isolation unit.

Starship flew a medical professional to Europe to bring back the bone marrow.

Caroline received a stem cell transplant in September 2016.

The anonymous donor saved Caroline again three months later when her body began to reject the transplant and she required an infusion of the donor’s T-cells.