Whānau Āwhina Plunket is the largest provider of services to support the health and wellbeing of children aged up to five. Our mahi is centred on supporting pēpi (babies) and tamariki (children) to have the best possible start in life – they are at the heart of everything we do. 

That’s why, when new māmā, Kerra went to one of her first Plunket appointments, Nurse Gillian was able to swiftly spot an issue with baby Isla. It was an observation that started an unexpected and emotional journey for Kerra, Isla and their whānau.

Nurse Gillian pointed out that Isla had ‘unequal bum cheek creases’ and asked Kerra if she’d noticed them as well.  

“It was a bit overwhelming. I had noticed that one leg was a little longer than the other. But I just thought maybe her muscles were tense on one side, or she was using one side more than the other. I didn’t know it could be an issue,” says Kerra. 

Nurse Gillian immediately referred Isla to the family GP, one of around 1,500 referrals for hip issues that Plunket makes each year*. The GP assured Kerra that ‘most of the time it doesn’t come to anything’ but sent them off for a scan to be sure.  

That scan confirmed that Isla had a condition called hip dysplasia, which was treated by Isla wearing a Pavlik harness 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We found out we weren’t allowed to take the harness off, we couldn’t bath her, just sponge bath her. She had to sleep in it and everything. It was all a lot. It was horrible. I don't wish it upon anyone,” reflects Kerra. 

Nobody wants to see their child distressed, and re-learning the skills that Kerra had started honing as a new mum of an infant – bathing her, putting her into her car seat properly and putting her to sleep each night – was a challenge. But most significantly, Isla didn’t have to face surgery.

Nurse Gillian saw the warning signs early, and a less invasive path to recovery in the form of the Pavlik harness was able to be taken. Now, baby Isla will be able to enjoy a life free of pain and mobility issues. 

I'm 100% going to tell everyone that I know to make use of Plunket. They've changed our life. Even if I had six kids, I'd still go to Plunket because they look for things that I wouldn't know to,” says Kerra. 

Every child deserves a Nurse Gillian. By providing the expert care of a Plunket nurse to each pēpi born in Aotearoa, we can set the path of wellness in our communities, for generations to come. Your support means we can achieve this together.  

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Isla and her teddy showing off their Pavlik harnesses

*Statistic retrieved from Whānau Āwhina Plunket data & insights analysis