Countdown calls on Kiwis to help get sick kids home for dinner

The Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal runs from 7 August – 29 October and aims to raise more than $1 million to help get sick Kiwi kids home from hospital faster

7 August 2017: Eight-year-old Liviela (Liv) Ulunga loves being at home sharing time with her family around the dinner table – it’s her happy place. But Liv, the face of this year’s Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal, often misses out on this special time at home because she was born with a hole in her heart which has led to ongoing health issues. She has spent years living in and out of Kidz First Children’s Hospital receiving treatment.

The Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal kicks off today and raises money for much-needed medical equipment in 11 children’s wards in hospitals across the country. Thousands of Kiwi kids visit these hospital wards each year, and this year’s Appeal aims to raise more than $1 million to help those in need.

Liv has been in and out of hospital her whole life. The youngest of three siblings, Liv is active and loves to ride her bike, swim, dance and sing. Despite her brave appearance, Liv is a regular at Kidz First Children’s Hospital, along with more than 13,000 other Kiwi kids every year. On top of circulatory issues, Liv also lives with autism spectrum disorder and pica. She has benefited from various pieces of hospital equipment during her many stays, including paediatric bed space, a central monitoring system, ventilators, cough assist equipment and ultrasound equipment – all purchased with funds raised through the Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal.

Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal Chairperson, Ruth Krippner, says: “Life is tough for the thousands of Kiwi kids and their families who are in and out of hospital with illness and injury. Our aim is to work with local communities to raise funds for medical equipment that will help better the lives of these kids and their families, and get them home faster. Last year we raised a massive $1.1 million, and we’re hoping to do the same this year.”

When in hospital, Liv’s mum, Rebecca Wood, never leaves her side – and neither does her favourite toy purple kitten. Liv’s illnesses mean she is often required to take her medication intravenously, which sees her in isolation for sometimes 13 hours at a time. Although she’s exceptionally well cared for in hospital, it’s the idea of being home that Liv longs for.

“With every trip to Kidz First Liv just wants to go back home; it’s her sanctuary, her place where she feels secure and where she feels safe in her community. Liv is very aware that hospital is a great place when she is sick, but home is a better place to recuperate,” says Ms Wood.

As the Appeal enters its eleventh year, more than $10.4 million has been raised to purchase vital life-saving medical equipment. Most recently, Christchurch Hospital received a new respiratory body box that helps children with their breathing tests. The paediatric body plethysmograph, the first in the South Island, and the only one in New Zealand using the latest ultrasonic technology, measures a child’s lung performance. Other equipment includes an Oxinet Central Monitoring System at Kidz First Children’s Hospital to support kids living with respiratory issues; an ECG machine that records the electrical activity of the heart at Whangarei Hospital, crucial for those kids living with a serious heart condition, and an i-STAT Portable Blood Analyser at Tauranga Hospital to provide fast results for Kiwi kids in hospital.

New Zealanders can support kids like Liv who are battling illness and injury by making a donation to the Appeal or engaging in local activities and raffles. To donate, simply:

  • Visit your local Countdown supermarket and donate at the checkout
  • Purchase a Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal wristband or raffle ticket in-store
  • Participate in your local store fundraising activities
  • Donate while you're doing your shopping online by selecting Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal as a product.

For more information on the Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal visit or enquire at your local Countdown store.

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