Viliame bounces in and out
Four-year-old Viliame arrived in New Zealand from Fiji, bouncing into the country and sprinting about the airport, unlike many of our heart patients who often arrive feeling quite poorly.
He needed surgery to treat a coronary arterial fistula – a connection between one or more of the coronary arteries and a cardiac chamber or great vessel. This is a rare defect and usually occurs in isolation. The majority of such fistulas are congenital in origin. They do not usually cause symptoms or complications in the first two decades of life, especially when small, and this explained this bundle of energy on arrival. After this age, the frequency of both symptoms and complications usually increases.
Viliame, supported and cared for by his mother Talia, underwent a relatively straightforward procedure at Auckland’s Starship Hospital, involving a catheter closure using a variety of closure devices. Catheter technique results are mostly excellent with few complications and Viliame can expect a good outcome.
Jasminah breathes again
Jasminah is a 16-month-old girl from Vanuatu who failed to thrive from birth and had frequent respiratory tract infections. She was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect (VSD) during a clinic held by Dr John Stirling in Vanuatu in early 2019.
Jasminah and her mother Angelina arrived in Ronald McDonald House in Auckland, New Zealand in July. After completing pre-tests and assessments, she had remedial surgery undertaken by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr John Artrip. She was initially very apprehensive of strangers but with Josie Adriaansen of Browns Bay Rotary supporting her and her mother Angelina she quickly relaxed for routine post-operative assessments. She is no longer breathless and has returned home fit and well, just over six weeks after her arrival.
Verzi is healthy again
Verzi, a fifteen-year-old girl from the Solomon Islands, arrived in Sydney with her carer, Aunt Vedna. She had rheumatic fever in 2015 and now needed the mitral valve in her heart replaced.
Verzi had her pre-admission checks at the Westmead Children’s Hospital Heart Clinic, in preparation for her surgery. Her surgeon was Dr Ian Nicolson, a well-known Sydney cardiothoracic surgery specialist (pictured). She came through her operation well, spending very little time in intensive care before going back to Ronald Macdonald House to recuperate. Unfortunately, she contracted an infection and had to be re-admitted a few days later – but, after 3 days, she was well enough to be discharged again, attending as an out-patient for a further few days. ROMAC volunteer carers Liz, Liane and Marilyn were a great support to Verzi and Aunt Vedna (pictured) during this time. Verzi was declared well enough to travel back home with Aunt Vedna in time to spend a very happy Christmas with their family.
Mourine, accompanied by her mother Ekila, arrived in Sydney to receive treatment for a large mass growing on her neck and chest.
Their home is a small island in the north of the Solomon Islands where they live a subsistence life without modern conveniences, such as electricity. The culture shock on arrival in Sydney, where they were accommodated at Ronald McDonald House, was enormous.
A support team, with members from Rotary Districts 9675 and 9685, provided rostered support on a daily basis over ten months, taking them grocery shopping, showing them how to use our modern appliances, accompanying them to medical appointments and visiting when Mourine was in hospital, as well as taking them on outings and to Rotary meetings.
While recovering from surgery, Mourine celebrated her 15th birthday. Her support team and her mother Ekila made sure it was celebrated in style.
To mark the final day of Mourine’s treatment in October, her fantastic support team got together with Mourine and Ekila for a well-deserved celebration. Finally in November, they farewelled the pair as they left Sydney for their home, and a healthy and happy life for Mourine.
Rachel recovers from renal condition
Rachel and her mother Victoria arrived in Auckland, New Zealand from Vanuatu in June. Rachel had a renal condition that needed to be resolved and the renal team at Starship Hospital promptly got to work to treat her.
Rachel was accommodated in Ronald McDonald House and was hosted by the Rotary Club of Birkenhead. Under Gaston Bruneau’s lead, the Club saw that the family had visitors and outings during the recovery days of their stay.
Rachel was under treatment and observation for about six weeks. It was wonderful to see Rachel become stronger by the day and taking in the new experiences of the Zoo, Museum and playgrounds of Auckland with her hosts. She was the happiest wee girl with a beautiful smile and won many hearts and made friends with other ROMAC patients.
Rachel flew home fully recovered in early August. She and and her mother were both so grateful to ROMAC and Rotary for restoring Rachel to good health and for the wonderful experiences they were treated to while they were in New Zealand.