A Positive Attitude to Impossible Circumstances
Before Jamie Dove was five, he’d had more health problems than most of us get in a lifetime.
Jamie, 25, has faced death many times in his young life but thanks to a positive attitude, and the generosity of New Zealand blood donors, he now lives a healthy, full life.
As a baby, Jamie had a raft of health problems, including asthma, anaemia, lung abcesses, meningism, and epilepsy. When he was one he was
hospitalised with rotavirus and three days later he stopped breathing, had febrile seizures and developed a septicaemia (blood poisoning).
Jamie also developed aphasia (loss of speech) and developmental delay.
He was finally diagnosed with an immune deficiency – a sub-class deficiency with some t-cell involvement. This meant Jamie didn’t make antibodies when he got an infection; he had no protection against common bugs and could build no resistance.
Paediatric immunologist Dr Lloyd Cairns implemented Jamie’s first blood transfusion of IV gamma globulin, or Intragram, a blood product made from white blood cells. Jamie was only the fourth child in New Zealand to receive a transfusion of other people’s antibodies, and he was finally protected against many common infections.
This was the beginning of a new life for Jamie. Although it took him many years to overcome his speech problems and developmental delay, he did, and gradually his seizures and asthma were controlled with the help of medication.
Although he still has to be extremely careful about not getting ill or picking up other people’s bugs, Jamie is now healthy most of the time.
Every three weeks he is given 600ml of Intragram through a portacath in his chest wall. His father, a nurse, administers the Intragram at home.
Between treatments, Jamie gradually becomes more tired and his energy and immunity depletes. However, after the transfusion the transformation is amazing. “It changes how I feel dramatically. It feels like I’ve caught up on a whole lot of sleep. My body feels really good again. It’s like going from zero to hero.”
Over time Jamie has put his hand up to help wherever needed because he feels so grateful for the help he has received.
He fundraised for a cell separator so Intragram could be made in New Zealand, he has helped with blood drives and he volunteers five days per week at Riding for Disabled, which he attended as part of his recovery as a child.
“I like to do something for the community,” he says. “Because I can’t work, I’m on a sickness benefit, which pays for my medical treatment. But I wouldn’t dream of just taking the money – I need to do something in return for it. “I like to ‘pay it forward’.”
“There are so many people I am grateful for in my life,” he says.
“I like to do something for the community. We are all capable of doing a lot; it’s just about realising what we can do.”
Jamie says his family and doctors fought tooth and nail to get his the excellent healthcare he has received over the years.
“My family has always been very supportive,” he says.
Jamie has a great respect for life and is philosophical in his outlook. “My experiences have made me who I am. I hold no grudges toward my
“If everyone did a little bit to help everyone else out, the world would be a much easier place for many people.”
He has had a lot of ups and downs and near death experiences, which he says has changed him dramatically.
“I have a great respect for life in general. If you have faced death you live a very difference life than if you haven’t.”
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