Paige Humphrey in a sunflower field outside Casino.
Paige Humphrey in a sunflower field outside Casino. Susanna Freymark

World-first surgery for brave 'little champion'

TODAY is a big day for Coraki's Paige Humphreys - after a long battle and months of fundraising, she is in Chicago and about to undergo a world-first surgery.

Her family, posting on the Saving Paige Humphreys Facebook page, wrote: "Please pray for Paige".

"Her surgery has been scheduled for Monday.

"While I don't believe that this little champion could have made it this far to be let down, there is still a risk.

"I can't imagine a world without her smiles and enthusiasm for life, and so I know she is destined to triumph this next hurdle!

"My wish for you Paige, is a long and happy life, empowered by the experiences you have endured, with endless opportunities to create more magic! Love you beautiful girl ... Aunty Roz xx".

Paige's rare condition is called hypersplenism, pancytopenia and non-cirrhotic portal hypertension. When she arrived at the hospital in Chicago, she was also diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.

Her blood flow from her digestive organs to her liver is blocked and several organs are under pressure and stress.

It means unfiltered blood goes through other organs, including her brain, and plays with her concentration, motivation and emotions.

The Humphreys family received confirmation in June that Paige would receive the life-saving surgery she needed, and, thanks to a huge fundraising effort from the local community, the expenses are being paid by the Lions Club of Australia.

The complex surgery was put back a couple of weeks as Paige recovered from a virus.

But her family has been positive about the surgery, and Paige has "blown doctors away" with the improvements in her liver function since June.

The diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension in Chicago meant that many surgical options were off the table.

Only a successful portal vein reconstruction could fix her liver without overwhelming her heart.

"This is apparently the fifth known occurrence of this," her family said.

"Armed with this knowledge, and with the special assistance of the cardiac and respiratory teams here (in Chicago), the prognosis can be just as good, though a lot more expensive and a 'nine out of ten' for surgical complexity.

"Fortunately there is still money in reserve being held by the Lions club, raised with your support. Thank you.

"The doctors here are very surprised at her good outward health.

"Paige is nervous, but strong and happy, as our brave little soul has already faced the prospect of her own death several times over many years. She will be fine."