Jess Irving with her parents Mat and Trina.
Jess Irving with her parents Mat and Trina. Alistair Brightman

Family settles into Melbourne to await lung transplant

THE Irving family knows how difficult it can be for cystic fibrosis patients in regional areas.

With help from generous members of the Hervey Bay community, they recently moved their entire lives down to Melbourne to await a lung donation that would allow 12-year-old Jess a new lease on life.

Jess's father explained once the donated lungs were made available, Jess would have 20 minutes to respond to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne - the only hospital in Australia that offers paediatric lung transplants.

He said this extremely time-sensitive and life-changing exercise would not be possible if the family had stayed in Hervey Bay.

"When you've been accepted onto the list like Jess has, you have no option but to live near the hospital, but we do miss Hervey Bay," Mr Irving said.

The family has downsized from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom inner-city apartment and will remain in Melbourne for up to 18 months after Jess has the transplant.

Mr Irving said Jess was adjusting as best she could under the circumstances.

"Jess is very resilient and tough, but obviously she's wishing she was still in Hervey Bay and she misses her dog, which we had to get rid of for the move," he said.

"She's a tough kid and she knows we're in the place we have to be for her to live a long and happy life once it's all done."

Jess is spending most of her time at home, where she receives 'hospital in home' care provided by the Royal Children's' Hospital in Melbourne.

She has weekly appointments with the Alfred Hospital to monitor her health for the operation.