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Hero father goes to court to give daughter his heart

CHRIS Liebke would have done anything to save his eldest daughter from heart disease.

He even went to court in an attempt to acquire the right to donate his own heart to her.

The next decade would involve the family dropping everything routinely to spend lengthy periods by Bethany's hospital bedside as she recovered from the latest in a long string of surgeries and illnesses.

But when she inevitably succumbed to tricuspid atresia three days before her 10th birthday, the Liebke family never forgot the help they were given along the way.

Mr Liebke said they would never have been able to get by without the support they received from family, friends and Heart Kids, a charity that provides support to families of children with heart conditions.

"It was never ending," he said.

"There were a lot of trips, a lot of surgeries, but she was supposed to die when she was six weeks old.

"She got crook four months before she died and just didn't get well."

So when it came time to celebrate his 40th birthday, he decided he had everything he needed in life and the best gift would be for people to donate money to Heart Kids.

He said they put on a feed, two live bands, organised raffles and auctions and guests paid for their own drinks on the night.

In one night they raised $5000.

"That's why I did it," Mr Liebke said.

"Because I know how much they do for people like us.

"You have to leave your job for six weeks at a time and they provide accommodation, food and day-to-day help, schooling for siblings.

"There was a point when we found out transplant might be an option and that meant we would have to move to Melbourne for 18 months.

"Then they decided it was a catch-22 and couldn't do it in the end because there had been too much strain on her heart from other surgeries.

"I wanted to give her mine and went to court and everything.

"You'd do anything for your kids."

One of the things he was most grateful for was the extra support offered to Bethany's brother Regan, now 11, who Mr Liebke said had been through much more than the average child.

To find out more about Heart Kids or make a donation, visit www.heartkidsqld.org.au.

HEART KIDS: Chris Liebke was prepared to donate his own heart to save his young daughter. Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle
HEART KIDS: Chris Liebke was prepared to donate his own heart to save his young daughter. Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle Bev Lacey

Topics:  editors picks family heart disease heart kids


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