No more birthdays for Skye

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 January, 1998, 12:00am

Pink Balloons by Beverly McGregor How do you celebrate your birthday? Do you have party balloons in your house and a cake to share with friends? Skye loves pink balloons. For her birthday cake every year, she asks her mother to make pink balloons out of sugar to decorate the icing.

She saves the sweet balloons, hoping to keep the collection until she has at least 100.

Like any other five-year-old, Skye has not really thought much about the future.

So when her mother tells her there is 'a bug' in her blood which means she won't live until old age, Skye is not at all worried.

Excerpt from page 4 'I don't mind, Mum,' she explained. 'I don't want to be old, anyway. Old means grey hair and wrinkles and sitting around all day in a smelly old person's home. I don't want to be like that.' What Skye doesn't realise is that the bug - or virus - is deadly. It is known to most people as AIDS.

Skye was given infected blood as a baby during a transfusion necessary to save her life.

Tragically, her life has been put at risk.

Skye discusses her condition with a doctor, who tells her the bad news.

Excerpt from page 7 'Did the person who gave the blood know it was bad?' 'No.' 'Will the bug in their blood make them sick too?' 'Yes it will, Skye.' 'You should give them some medicine too. Then they'll feel better. No one wants to be sick.' Skye felt sad for the person who'd given the blood. They'd tried to do a good thing, but it hadn't worked out that way.' Skye struggles to go on living as best she can for the next four years.

Her courage in the face of the AIDS spectre and her positive outlook are buttressed by her sense of humour, her innocence and her honesty.

Skye's story is sensitively told and you will agonise with her family as you share with them the traumatic final few years of her life.

Her dream of 100 sugar balloons is never realised, even though she has faithfully kept not only the sugar balloons from her cake, but also those from friends and family who have graciously celebrated their birthdays as if they were Skye's own.

They have even requested pink-icing balloons on their cakes so she could add them to her collection.

The loving concern of Skye's immediate circle of relatives and the care of the hospital staff shine through this dark tragedy.

This is a biography yet, despite knowing Skye died almost six years ago, when you read her story today it can still move you to tears.

One of Skye's dying wishes was that her tale be shared.

The book is available at Skywalker Books Ltd, 18/F, CNT Commercial Building, 302 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2521-5222.