Mum Julie Gravina never thought she would see the day that her five-year-old daughter would go for one entire year without a hospital stay – but while 2020 has been a nightmare for most, it’s been a dream come true for Charlize.
“We used to think of hospital as a second home. Now to be able to cut ties, so that we now think of ourselves as visitors – well that’s the way it should be.’’
The Gravina family are more used to setbacks than wins.
Twins Charlize and Isaac were diagnosed with a severe metabolic disorder, Propionic Acidemia, after ending up in intensive care not long after birth. The condition causes a buildup of acids in the blood, urine and tissues, which is toxic to the body’s organs.
Both infants became so ill they required a liver transplant, but unfortunately Isaac went into septic shock after his operation and died. The family then had to put Charlize through the same procedure in order to save her life. It didn’t work and she required a second transplant.
Life has been a constant struggle since then, but Julie says they are turning a corner. This is her second year being a face of Jeans for Genes, and life has really changed in that time. She now eats food and does not require a pump to deliver nutrients to her body.