Invercargill family saves young Dominic

Friday January 12, 2018 Written by Published in Local
Marie and Jennifer Muhl with Dominic, pictured about 14 months, when they first met. 18011007 Marie and Jennifer Muhl with Dominic, pictured about 14 months, when they first met. 18011007

After moving from the Cook Islands for lifesaving treatment in New Zealand, baby Dominic Joseph-Kura received a liver transplant from an Invercargill family.


When Lachlann Muhl died in January last year, at age 14, his family decided to donate his organs to people who needed it.

Lachlann was a fit, healthy and active boy, but was also kind, generous and very giving.

When his family had to make the decision to donate his organs there was no question, they said.

The Muhl family was not told who the organs would go to, only that there were four recipients who were all male.

His heart went to a teenager about his age, each of his kidneys to a man in his 30s and a man in his 60s, and his liver to a baby.

In June last year, through the power of social media the Muhl family found the baby, one-year-old Dominic, who had moved to New Zealand from Rarotonga for treatment.

The two families now share a special connection.

Dominic, who is 18 months old, had Biliary Artesia and was given two weeks to live before his transplant saved his life.

His grandmother Tangi Ruvea said when he was about 3 months old they noticed a yellow colour to his skin, but doctors did not know what was wrong with him.

By four months old he was crying, not sleeping or eating properly and his eyes had turned yellow too.

"I could see him fading away," Ruvea said.

In October, Ruvea made the decision to move to New Zealand with hopes of finding a cure for his, at that time, unknown disease.

"There was not much thinking, I just thought I'd go overseas for a cure then home," she said.

Dominic's mum, Moeara Joseph, was 19 years old and finishing school, so Ruvea had to leave her husband and other children to go to Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland.

In New Zealand he was diagnosed with Biliary Artesia and in the week of his transplant was told he had two weeks to live, Ruvea said.

Family flew over from Rarotonga during this time. The family never stopped praying, Ruvea said.

However, when they got news Dominic had a liver donated it was very emotional, she said.

"It was a happy and sad feeling, letting go of one and saving one.

"I thank the Lord for saving Dom and taking one with him, but you know it's a hard one. Everything was emotional."

Lachlann's mum Marie Muhl found the family through social media, but Ruvea said she was on the hunt for the donor family too.

"I felt happy when I met her [Marie]. We had so much in common ... to me it was a blessing that I got to meet her.

"The love she has for her son is now in Dom I told her.

"This boy will always be a part of her family."

Lachlann's sister Ffion said they call her and her siblings Dominic's half siblings, and always referred to Lachlann as their angel and hero, even before the families met.

The family would have done anything to have their son back with them, but when they knew it was not an option it was also satisfying for them to give the gift of life to other families so they would not go through what they were, Lachlann's dad Jon said.

The family plans to stay in touch, especially since Dominic has to live in New Zealand for at least 10 years for monitoring.

Dominic's development is going well and he is making big improvements, even starting to talk, Ruvea said.

"He is a strong boy and never gives up."

His mum will look after him in New Zealand with visits from the rest of his family, she said.

            - Stuff


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