The parents of a four-year-old girl almost totally paralyzed from a neurological disorder are pleading with Auckland health officials to let her live at home.
Peter Bircham is in a stand-off with the Auckland District Health Board over how to best look after his four-year-old daughter, Ana-Carolina, who has lived in Starship Hospital's intensive care unit since she was five months old.
It costs $1.6 million each year to keep Ana-Carolina alive at Starship, as she is dependent on a ventilator to breath and unable to move on her own.
But Peter Bircham says the intensive care unit is no place to grow up.
"A very draining place. There's bright lights on quite often 24 hours a day," he said.
"There can be surgeries performed within metres of us. Children die there every week. There's no window to the outside world, there's artificial light around. And it's not really a place to grow up."
If Ana-Carolina was brought home to live she would need a ventilator at home, and round the clock care.
But Auckland DHB Chief Medical Officer, Dr Margaret Wilsher, said they are committed to getting Ana Carolina home eventually, but more planning is needed.
"Our hope is that her parents will continue to work with us to develop and implement a plan that will see Ana-Carolina eventually return home to the care of her parents in a well-supported environment," Dr Wilsher said.