Diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia at just 8 weeks old, Georgia’s older sister Grace saved her life by donating bone marrow – at the time, making Georgia the youngest ever recipient of a bone marrow transplant in Australia.
But, a year later, Georgia relapsed. Doctors told Georgia’s mum there was no way she’d survive. She was told to say goodbye to her daughter. Georgia’s mum begged doctors to give her anything that’d prolong Georgia’s life long enough to take her on one final family holiday. They put Georgia on steroids and miraculously, it slowed the cancer. A second bone marrow transplant was attempted (this time from her brother Tom) and – against all odds - it was successful, making Georgia one of a tiny number of survivors of two bone marrow transplants in the world.
But cancer doesn’t end at remission. Georgia still lives with the effects of aggressive radiation at such a young age: severely stunted growth, the need for teeth implants, gastro problems and liver and lung damage as well as infertility. The family were exhausted, after facing so much trauma together and losing all those strength-building moments of childhood that every family deserves. This is what Camp Quality gave back to them. Georgia’s mum Ann-Maria says: “They say it takes a village to raise a child. And Camp Quality were our village. While my husband and I had time to relax, Camp Quality took care of all our kids and gave them back something we hadn’t heard in a long while: laughter. That’s what made us strong enough to face anything.”
Georgia tears up as she talks about Camp Quality: “For the 18 years they supported me, I wasn’t the delicate kid or the odd looking kid who hadn’t grown properly. I felt normal so I could truly relax and have fun. I had two volunteers (otherwise known as companions) that I grew close to throughout my time with Camp Quality and I consider them part of my family now. They boosted my self-confidence, encouraged my bravery and will now forever be a big part of my life.”
About to turn 21, Georgia is now giving back to us in so many ways. First, she appeared on ABC's 7.30, championing our support. Then, she told her Camp Quality story to Woman's Day.
Watch Georgia's ABC story
Our corporate partner Arnott's saw the media Georgia was getting and flew her in from Perth to Sydney, where Georgia was introduced by Catriona Rowntree as guest speaker at their fundraising ball.
The auction that immediately followed smashed its fundraising target - in large part thanks to Georgia's moving speech.
Georgia is now trained to be a Volunteer primarily as a Companion to a young kid going through what she once did. The beautiful cycle continues – Georgia, we’re so proud of you. With your support we are able to reach more children like Georgia and give them the resilience and optimism that will have a lifelong impact so thank you.
To surprise Georgia on her birthday, we persuaded Red Balloon to donate a hot air balloon ride and some local accommodation to put the family up overnight. Channel 7 then conspired with us and Georgia's mum to capture her surprise!
Watch Georgia's 21st Birthday Surprise