Woman’s Day Magazine NZ|December 2 2019
Mela Mitchell’s first-ever photo with her little sister Eva isn’t like the pictures her friends have holding their new siblings.
“Mine’s in a hospital cot and Eva has tubes, having just come off life support,” recalls the ballet-loving teen, 14, whose younger sibling was born with a hole in her diaphragm. “A nurse’s hands are helping me hold her.”
Eva, now 12, was given a 10% chance of surviving birth, but now she and her big sister are best friends, bonded not only by blood, but a childhood growing up in hospital.
“I was the kid watching doctors resuscitate my little sister in the middle of the night, while Mum screamed at them to help,” recalls Mela, who spent six years living amongst sick children and the beeping of machines as Eva fought for her life.
“People expect me to be resentful because she takes so much attention and needs so much care and help, but I’m just not,” says Mela. “As a kid, the thing I wanted most and still want is for my little sister to be OK.”
As the pair giggle and chat, dancing around and fussing over their outfits, it’s a far cry from their earlier days.
For high-school student Mela, things like learning to ride a bike and scooter were taught by nurses down the hallway of the ward, and daycare was a hospital playroom.
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December 2 2019