Dom

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Name a sport and there's a good chance 17-year-old Dom has played it. From rugby league to soccer, tee-ball, BMX racing and dance, Dom loves being active.

Dom in hospitalSadly, over the last few years, those sports have become a distant memory. Instead of being outdoors playing with his mates, Dom's life has been consumed by hospital.

Dom has suffered from chronic illness after failing to recover from a virus he contracted as a young boy.

His mum Elizabeth said Dom had ongoing flu like symptoms, swollen glands, migraines and stomach pains.

It was heartbreaking to see the impact it had on her outgoing son.

"My previously active, robust kid had to give away most sport activities and barely coped with attending school," she said.

Dom was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at age 11. He was later diagnosed with Visceral Hyperalgesia and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome a condition in which a change from lying to standing causes an abnormally large increase in heart rate. Then earlier this year, doctors confirmed Dom also has Eosinophilic Oesophagitis which affects his swallowing and digestion.

To treat his chronic health conditions, Dom has regular admissions at Westmead Children's Hospital often for months at a time. He has spent a total of 160 days in hospital this year alone.

Dom and mumIt's incredibly difficult for Dom who misses his two older siblings and his friends at school.

"I spend more time in hospital than at home at the moment. I've missed 100 days of school already this year," Dom said.

Elizabeth lives at the hospital with Dom during his long admissions which takes its toll on family life.

Dom needs someone to be with him at all times due to the high risk of falls and family outings are rare.

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It impacts the time we have together as a family as Dom is often bed ridden. It has been mentally and emotionally draining but we have developed a strong support for each other which has made it more bearable.
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Elizabeth, Dom's mum

One bright light during Dom's agonising months in hospital, was discovering Livewire.

When Dom was feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by the unrelenting pain of his condition, the Livewire team were there helping him laugh and smile again.

"Livewire is made up of caring and passionate people who really 'get' teens and are dedicated to making them forget they are unwell for a bit," Elizabeth said.

Dom's mum said one of the hardest aspects of being seriously ill as a teen is the social isolation. Teens like Dom miss out on opportunities to spend time with others and can lose their social networks.

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Dom has only managed to get to school 10 times this year, that's why Livewire is so important helping to fill that void. Connecting with other teens who understand what it's like to have a chronic illness has helped Dom feel less isolated and alone with his struggles.
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Elizabeth, Dom's mum

Without Livewire, Dom would have very limited social contact as so much of his life is spent away from home and school.

In hospital, the Livewire team became Dom's friends, distracting him from his illness and giving him a reason to get out of bed. Beyond hospital, Livewire Online helps Dom chat and engage with other teens facing similar situations.

Dom in Starlight Express Room

He even got the chance to meet up with his Livewire mates at the Virgin Australia Starlight 30-year anniversary event.

Dom at Starlight 30 Years Event

Elizabeth said Livewire has made such a positive difference to Dom's life and she is so thankful to Starlight supporters.

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Thank you for keeping such a vital organisation going. Teenagers like Dom with long-term illnesses miss out on opportunities to just be kids. Livewire has been as crucial to Dom's health as his medical team.
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Elizabeth, Dom's mum

Dom with Captain Starlight

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