In July last year the St Dominic’s Priory College student began suffering headaches and feeling unwell. Initially her doctor thought it was stress related but her symptoms intensified and the Mansfield Park teenager was struggling to sleep and breathing was becoming difficult.
Blood tests were ordered and it revealed Kristy had a lung infection and was experiencing kidney failure.
The shock diagnosis was the beginning of an extremely distressing time for the Dang family as Kristy spent the next month in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) undergoing tests.
Regular attendees at St Patrick’s Church in the Croydon Park parish, Kristy’s family – which includes dad Viet, mum Ut Thoan and her younger brother – said many prayers as they learnt their daughter and sister would need a kidney transplant.
Luckily tests revealed that her dad was a match, however Kristy was adamant that she was going to finish Year 12 and attend her graduation ball before undergoing surgery.
“Mum and Dad were really worried and told me not to finish Year 12 but I really wanted to and I didn’t listen to them,” she told The Southern Cross.
“The graduation ball was my last day with my girls and I wanted to spend it with them.”
Kristy’s decision to delay her operation meant that for the second half of the year she had to be hooked up to dialysis three times a week, for three hours at a time.
While not the usual surroundings for doing homework, she would often use the time to catch up on study.
Reflecting on the challenging year, Kristy said St Dominic’s and her friends had been “great”.
“They helped me get through the work that I missed out on and my friends were really supportive,” the now 18-year-old said.
She explained that the St Dominic’s Year 12 coordinator had successfully applied for Special Provisions from SACE so she wasn’t required to sit her final exams, “although I chose to anyway”.
Despite the upheaval throughout the year, Kristy was thrilled to learn she passed her subjects of English, maths, society and culture, and psychology. She said delaying the transplant had also been worth it as the graduation ball was a “great night” and a fitting end to her secondary schooling.
This year she plans to undertake a Foundation course at UniSA and hopes to eventually study either nursing or psychology.
FOOTNOTE: Kristy underwent a kidney transplant on January 21 and is now recovering well at home.
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