Georgie Hill, 7, is one of the many Kiwis living with cystic fibrosis. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Georgie fighting the ‘quiet disease’

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If you looked at Georgie Hill, you would see just normal seven-year-old girl.

She likes running, horses and trampolining.

But Georgie also suffers from cystic fibrosis (CF) – New Zealand’s most common life-limiting genetic condition, which creates sticky secretions that are difficult to cough up. In turn, viruses, bacteria and fungus can become trapped under the mucus which can cause inflammation and infection, making it harder to breathe and often causing a chronic cough and repeated chest infections.

People with CF also have a much higher risk of developing serious complications from bugs that are generally harmless to other people.

Her mum Lisa says that they knew three days after she was born that something wasn’t right. So, since then, Georgie has been receiving physiotherapy every day to release mucus from her lungs.

“People with cystic fibrosis you would never know they have it. That is why they call it the ‘quiet disease’.”

Lisa says they deal with it day by day.

“Georgie looks absolutely fine, but they can get sick and in a heartbeat that can change.”

This week is cystic fibrosis awareness week which was created to build awareness on what cystic fibrosis is and how it affects people.

For Georgie, who goes to Brightwater School, it means living with a disease with no cure. Lisa says as she gets older, she is asking the hard questions about what CF can do.

“We have been honest since she was young. If you always tell them then you never have to tell them.”

Lisa says that her and her husband don’t think too much about the future.

“You just have to keep her health as good as it can be and get on and enjoy life.”

There is no cure, but the gene that causes CF has been identified and Lisa says new research and medications that focus on ways to repair or replace the gene are very promising.

But until then Lisa says they are encouraging Georgie to continue doing the things she loves.

“It’s the best thing she can do.”