The Boughen’s lost their beloved family member Elizabeth, known as Lizzie, to a rare disease known as auto immune hepatitis in January.
But from their pain and anguish they found a way to give hope to others who may suffer from the same or similar conditions.
Lizzie, who was sadly just 22 when she passed in January (2023), was a keen member of the agricultural community in her hometown of Rosewood. Her passion for the cattle industry led the Boughen’s to a unique way to raise funds for research in her honour, selling a Droughtmaster heifer bred by Lizzie.
The heifer named The BLOCK Lightning Rose was sold at an auction in Gympie for $3000, which was then donated toward autoimmune disease and immune system related research at the PA Hospital through the PA Research Foundation.
Elizabeth’s older sister Emma said Lizzie had been unwell for a number of weeks before initially presenting to Ipswich Hospital.
“She’d been sick for weeks before she went into hospital, prior to that she was just kind of bouncing around from different doctors not really knowing what illness she had or what to do with her,” she said.
“One doctor said she had vertigo and somebody else said she was just recovering from glandular fever which we now know she did have, and then that's what triggered the autoimmune response which led to the autoimmune hepatitis.
“She went into hospital in early December after she turned yellow, which is when her liver started to fail and that’s when she was sent to the PA.”
After diagnosing Lizzie with autoimmune hepatitis, her treatment team at the PA put her on a course of steroids, the only current treatment for the condition outside of a liver transplant, which in Lizzie’s case would have been extremely risky due to the hepatitis infection in her liver.
They were initially confident of Lizzie making a strong recovery but when the steroids failed to have the impact they’d hoped for, other complications started to affect her health.
Being on steroids for an extended period had left Lizzie swollen and in pain and unfortunately her immune system was compromised due to the infection and the steroids, and she picked up a staph infection and severe pneumonia.
Sadly, Lizzie passed away in the PA’s Intensive Care Unit, just two days shy of her 23rd birthday.
Still reeling from Lizzie’s loss, the family wanted to raise funds in Lizzie’s honour that could contribute to research that could help someone with a similar condition in the future. This led to the sale of one of Lizzie’s beloved heifers.
“The biggest thing for us was, other than the steroids or a liver transplant there really was no other course of treatment for her condition.,” Emma said.
“A transplant would have come with a lot of risk and also would have meant a 22-year-old would then be on anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life.”
“It just dawned on us that there is so little research in this area and there were such limited treatment options. We just wanted to contribute to research that could help somebody else down the line.
“The Droughtmaster stud was really her passion, she kept it going and the animal that we sold was the first animal she really bred entirely on her own, it was her money and genetics that she'd sought out.”
You can support autoimmune disease research at the PA Hospital campus by making the PA Research Foundation your place to give here.