Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Tauranga parents in shock after teenage daughter suffers brain bleed

Ammoto Roldan Lictao and his wife Elaine are living every parent’s worst nightmare.

At 5pm on Friday they received a call from ambulance services telling them their daughter Dianne Lictao, 18, was in hospital.

“It was very sudden. We panicked. We’re still in shock,” Ammoto Lictao told the Bay of Plenty Times.

After the phone call, the Tauranga-based couple travelled to Auckland immediately. They have been talking to doctors and waiting for updates ever since.

“The nurse told us [Dianne] rang 111 early in the afternoon because of a headache.”

But when paramedics arrived at her apartment Dianne was already unconscious.

The doctors have diagnosed a bleed close to Dianne’s brain stem. They originally planned to operate on Monday but pushed the delicate surgery back so they could measure Dianne’s neurological responses without sedation.

Medical staff have since discovered Dianne had an arteriovenous malformation — an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins.

When the Lictao family spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times they said Dianne had been scheduled for an angiogram and MRI.

“Before this happened we never could have imagined something like this,” Lictao said.

Lictao came to New Zealand from the Philippines in 2015. His wife and younger daughter Dianne joined him two years later and Dianne attended Tauranga Girls’ College.

Lictao is a panel beater at Matamata Panelworks. Elaine works as a cleaner at Tauranga Hospital. Their work-to-residence visas are being processed by Immigration New Zealand.

Both parents have put their jobs on hold to be with their daughter.

“This child of ours is bright and kind,” Lictao said.

“She’s been excelling and happy.”

The Lictaos describe their daughter as a keen photographer with big dreams and a passion for mental health.

Dianne even used her 18th birthday as a chance to fundraise for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“She wanted to study engineering but we can’t afford it because we are not yet permanent residents in New Zealand,” Lictao said.

Instead, Dianne enrolled in a diversional therapy course at Kauri Academy, starting in April.

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Vin Almazan, Dianne’s boyfriend and an occupational therapy student in Hamilton, was just arriving at Auckland Hospital when he spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times.

“Dianne has a pure, genuine, good heart. She’s very loving,” 21-year-old Almazan said.

“She’s pretty patient towards people and she treasures everyone who is special to her.”

Almazan and Dianne met online through a friend during the Covid-19 quarantine last year.

“I could tell it was heading towards us being more than friends,” Almazan said.

Almazan was on the phone with Dianne the day she collapsed.

“It was 11.09am. I answered her call and she was crying. It was very hard for me to see her like that.”

Dianne told Almazan her head was “really sore.” He told her to call 111.

“She hung up, called emergency and then rang me again.”

Almazan said their call only ended when they were sure the ambulance was on its way.

However, when he tried to contact Dianne for an update, there was no reply.

“I was trying to message her but she wasn’t responding.”

It wasn’t until 5.30pm that evening that Dianne’s aunt told Almazan what had happened.

Now Almazan is among a small crowd of loved ones waiting at Dianne’s bedside for news.

“We’re still hanging in there.”

Lictao believes nothing is impossible.

“‘We’re waiting for her to wake up. The Lord holds our lives in his hands.”

The Lictao family started a Givealittle page to help with the financial costs of staying in Auckland for Dianne’s treatment and for Dianne’s future needs.

As of yesterday afternoon the page had raised $14,410 from 391 donors.

The most recent update on the page said Dianne has been opening her eyes spontaneously.

“She is not out of the woods yet but we strongly believe that we serve a powerful God and nothing is impossible. Keep fighting Dianne,” the post read.

Warlito Aguillon, a friend of the family said the Lictaos were “very supportive friends”.

“When you have a problem they’re there for you. They’re always inviting us over and they’re very kind,” Aguillon said.

“My heart goes out to them.”

Tauranga Girls’ College principal Tara Kanji said she was very sorry to hear what had happened to her former student.

“Our thoughts are with her family at this time and we wish and hope for a positive recovery for a young woman who is warm and kind and has much to offer.”

– Some of the interviews in this article were conducted in Tagalog with simultaneous translations made by the reporter.

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