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Westcon NZ calls on Kiwi help for four-year-old Melissa van Blerk

21 Jun 14

Westcon New Zealand is calling on Kiwi generosity to help raise $20,000, to provide four-year-old Melissa van Blerk with a Diabetic Assistance Dog.

The daughter of Dries van Blerk, Westcon Group NZ technical quote specialist, Melissa's campaign has touched many at the company, leading to a nationwide appeal for help.

Suffering from severe Type 1 Diabetes, little Melissa’s family are fundraising for a Diabetic Assistance Dog to be trained to help recognise the scent of hypoglycaemia and respond in a defined way to ensure that the correct assistance is given.

According to Melissa’s fundraising page, the dog can provide a backup to exhausted parents who generally test blood glucose levels at least twice overnight and also offer valuable companionship to children who suffer the indignities of constant finger-pricks and insulin injections.

The dogs at Assistance Dogs New Zealand are put through rigorous training for two years prior to placement, to ensure they meet the criteria for service dogs and can therefore accompany Melissa wherever she may need to be.

The estimated cost of training these dogs is around $48k with van Blerk and his family setting a fundraising goal of $20k towards the next placement.

Diagnosed almost two years ago, Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease which destroys the body's pancreatic beta-cells - the only source of an essential hormone called insulin.

This hormone is the key to enabling blood sugar to pass from the bloodstream into the body's cells.

Lack of insulin causes a raft of nasty consequences, starting with hyperglycaemia and its impact on the kidneys and ending with life-threatening Diabetic Keto Acidosis.

For Type-1 diabetics, the only treatment is a lifetime of injections of insulin carefully calculated to balance out the metabolic requirements as well as any carbohydrate consumption.

For van Blerk and his family, this means weighing all of Melissa's food, calculating the number of carbohydrates, then adjusting her insulin pump which provides her with a continuous, minute supply of insulin throughout the day.

So far, so good but diabetes likes throwing curve-balls and on any given day, due to any given set of circumstances, Melissa’s insulin requirements may increase or decrease, so that the calculations can never be more than an educated guesstimate.

So please help the van Blerk family reach that goal and make a positive difference to the lives of families coping with this unforgiving disease.

Donations can be made through Melissa’s fundraising page by clicking here