There is nothing like the love that exists between grandparents and their grandchildren.
When Tangi Ruvea and her husband Nooroa Samuel welcomed their first grandson Dominic in May 2016, it was love at first sight.
Their daughter Moeara had blessed them with a miracle.
But in his short life, Dominic Joseph-Kura has been through more than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime.
Endless stays at Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland, surgeries, biopsies and a liver transplant.
When he was only a few months old, Dominic was diagnosed with Biliary Artesia, a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts that occurs in infants.
Dominic was the first person of Cook Islands descent to have the life-threatening illness. His story is well-documented in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.
In 2017, Dominic was within weeks of losing his life, when a family from Invercargill in New Zealand offered a massive lifeline.
Lachlann Muhl was 14-years-old when he passed away suddenly leaving his family devastated. Instead of being compounded by grief, it was his family’s wish to donate his organs to people who needed them.
Tangi Ruvea and her family believed that they had been given a gift from heaven, that God had truly answered their prayers and saved the life of their little one.
They were so grateful for the help and support of Starship Hospital and Ronald McDonald House, that Ruvea set up a fundraiser in Rarotonga and raised over $9000 and gave the full amount to the hospital as a token of their appreciation for saving Dominic’s life.
After three years of being in New Zealand to support her daughter and grandson, Ruvea made the decision to head home to Rarotonga. Her husband and family needed her here and she left Auckland content thinking Dominic was going to be okay.
That should have been the happy ending of the story.
Unfortunately, it isn’t.
At the end of 2019, Ruvea brought Dominic back to Rarotonga for the holidays.
After about three weeks, she noticed symptoms returning – Dominic’s eyes were yellow and he had severe jaundice.
Had she not known the signs she would have assumed her little grandson was fine.
“Dominic’s such a happy little boy,” she says.
“But his eyes were yellow, and he had severe jaundice.”
Ruvea booked urgent flights back to New Zealand and following tests and increased doses of medication, it was confirmed that Dominic’s body was rejecting his new liver.
Dominic’s only hope now lies with his mum Moeara, who is a match.
But Ruvea fears that with Covid-19 sweeping the world, the risk of infection is at an all-time high.
She worries for her daughter and her ability to look after Dominic following on from the surgery.
“I’ve told my daughter not to cry in front of him, he knows when there is something wrong,” she says.
“She has to be strong and prepared.”
On top of everything else, they are going to need financial support.
With New Zealand in lockdown for four weeks, Dominic has had to stay in hospital under the watchful eyes of medical staff, and his family nearby in Ronald McDonald House.
On Friday, though, he was taken home accompanied by his doctor and nurse because of the risk of Covid-19.
Ruvea says it is safer for Dominic to be at home while he waits for his transplant.
Ruvea intends to set up a Givealittle page and says she speaks to her daughter daily.
Time is not on their side, but faith is – Ruvea said she prays that her grandson is given the chance to live a healthy and full life.
“At the moment all we can do is pray and have hope.”