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Girl, 5, makes big impact on MPs

The Dominion Post | Thursday, 22 February 2007
MAARTEN HOLL/Dominion Post

SPELLBOUND: Katie Tookey barely said a word, but the five-year-old had politicians spellbound during her brief time in Parliament.

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She said barely a word, but five-year-old Katie Tookey had politicians spellbound during her brief time in Parliament.

Her father, Andy Tookey, took her to the health select committee yesterday to make submissions on two bills on organ donation.

Katie, who may eventually need a transplant, sat quietly during the meeting, swaying her legs back and forth on a chair that was far too big for her.

At the end, she turned around and grinned at the photographers.

Her presence produced touches of tenderness from politicians more accustomed to grilling bureaucrats.

National MP Tony Ryall told her: "I hope Daddy doesn't take you to Parliament's Question Time or you might learn some bad habits."

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia apologised for the committee not providing crayons and paper. Labour's Sue Moroney congratulated her on sitting still for so long.

Tookey said Katie, who has a rare liver disease, was doing "very well" at the moment, but other children were not so lucky and needed transplants.

He wanted to see the wishes of potential donors put first, above the wishes of their family members. He questioned why the number of donors had fallen when the national organ donation programme had more staff and a bigger budget. Organ Donation New Zealand clinical director Stephen Streat said outside the committee: "I can't go out and rustle up donors who do not exist." A lower road toll and better treatment in hospitals meant fewer people were becoming brain-dead, the criteria for donation of organs such as hearts and lungs.

The number of brain-dead donors would probably continue to decline and other techniques, such as live donations, would need to be used more often.

New Zealanders donated a high number of organs per person, he said.

courtesy of STUFF www.stuff.co.nz

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