Matilda King, 12 is a heart transplant recipient.
Matilda King, 12 is a heart transplant recipient. John McCutcheon

Miracle saves Coast family from losing second child

MATILDA was the miracle her parents needed.

Twelve years ago, the Nambour girl was born with a rare heart condition, dilated cardiomyopathy.

The same genetic mutation took the life of Leigh and Rob King's newborn baby Zara, and the sister Matilda never got to meet, 10 days after she was born.

Mrs Carrington-King said when the pair found out Matilda suffered the same condition the family dropped everything.

"We moved from Townsville to the Sunshine Coast, so we could be closer to better medical facilities," Mrs Carrington-King.

"But Matilda's quality of life was poor. She barely went to school and was in and out of hospital for eight years of her life."

The family made the decision to sign the then eight-year-old up for a heart transplant. The call came quicker than they expected.

"We had pulled up outside the old Jetstar terminal in Melbourne. We had the luggage out of the car on the pavement and the phone rang," Mrs Carrington-King said.

"Matilda answered it and handed the phone to me. We put the luggage back in the car and drove through peak hour traffic straight to the hospital."

Mrs Carrington-King said the call came just in time. She said if the family had to wait any longer they might have lost a second daughter.

"Her condition was deteriorating, fast," she said.

"A few more weeks and I'm not sure she would have made it."

Thankfully, she had the surgery and despite warnings from doctors of its high risks, Matilda made it through.

Ten days later she was riding a bike.

At the weekend, the now 12-year-old celebrated four years of living a healthy and happy life, thanks to the organ donor that gave her the ultimate gift.

Matilda said she had few memories before the surgery but remembered feeling left out at school and a burden to her friends.

"Everything is different now," she said.

"I love sport. I love dancing and I love being with my friends.

"I get to do everything I could never do, because of my condition, and it's all because someone chose to donate."

Mrs Carrington-King said looking at her daughter now, you couldn't tell how she suffered as a younger child.

"She has been through an amazing transformation," she said.

"We are so grateful to the person and family who chose to participate in organ donation. Because of them, Matilda gets to live a long and happy life."

She said the anniversary of the donation each year was "a day of mixed emotions".

"I spend the day thinking of our donor family and what the day means to them," Mrs Carrington-King said.

"I still can't believe how lucky we are. I wish they didn't have to experience the pain of losing their child, but I'm immensely grateful for the opportunity to experience my daughter growing up."

Also celebrating the anniversary of living a healthy life after donation was Caloundra's Kate Clark, who was diagnosed with liver failure at just eight years of age. At 17, Ms Clark was the recipient of a liver transplant and 20 years later is still making the most of it.

"I have done a few crazy things this year," Ms Clark said.

"Like obstacle course racing. I managed to run over 100km in 24 hours, which placed me second in the world."

Ms Clark said her dream had always been to get more children involved in sport after receiving a transplant.

On Saturday, Ms Clark met Matilda for the first time and spoke about her upcoming event, Ninja Warrior Competition.

The program runs as part of the Australian Transplant Games to be held at the Gold Coast next week.

"It's for the kids and all about spreading the message of staying active," Ms Clark said.

The free event runs from September 29 to October 6. For details head to:

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