Story & photo Eve Jeffery
Nine-year-old Byron Bay boy Noah Brink (pictured) is recovering in a Brisbane hospital after an operation to stabilise his heart beat. Early signs are that the operation was successful.
Noah was just ten months old when he had surgery to fix an atrial septal defect (ASD), a form of congenital heart defect that enables blood flow between two compartments of the heart. He had the operation and that was supposed to be that.
But last Thursday Noah’s parents Justine and Miguel delivered their son to the Mater Children’s Hospital where he had his ‘zipper’ reopened and further open heart surgery to fix the same problem.
‘This has come as quite a surprise’, says Noah’s mum Justine. ‘Noah was born with the ASD and when he was about six weeks old the doctors told us that they would try to hold off the surgery until he was three. But at ten months there were some complications and our little baby had open heart surgery.’
The operation, performed on a little heart the size of a pecan by renowned paediatric cardiac surgeon Dr Peter Pohlner, was a success.
‘He fixed it’, says Justine. ‘Then they told us that for all intents and purposes that was it and he wouldn’t have to go through this ever again, which was a huge relief for us and we left that phase of life behind us.’
As a result of that surgery, Noah has a checkup every year with the cardiologist and gets a ‘yes, that’s fine, we will see you next year’, but Justine says things were different this year.
‘Noah had been getting out of breath and having a lot of headaches so when we went for the checkup I mentioned this. Our usual cardiologist sent us for a further test and we rocked up to the Mater thinking we’d get sent home with an all clear.’
The result of that test was that a 15-millimetre hole was found and a second surgery was scheduled, which Noah again has come through like a real trouper.
‘Yesterday was huge as expected’, wrote Justine on Noah’s Facebook page. ‘Surgery went well and after a breath-stopping 13 hours, Noah opened his eyes, albeit briefly. Then at 11.30pm his spirit caught up, and, oh yes, the Noah is back. We are shattered but thrilled.’
By Monday afternoon the news was even more positive.
‘It’s too early to tell but Noah has had a breakthrough this avro. His heart rhythm is showing signs of stabilisation. This is truly a cause to celebrate. We can now exhale after five long days. Not out of the woods yet but a great sign. Yay….’
One of the biggest challenges now for the family is the financial strain as both Justine and Miguel have had to take time away from work to be with Noah in Brisbane, while the costs of running a home and family continues in Byron Bay.
Stepping up to the plate, the people who love and care so much for this wonderful lad are rallying around to take at least one pressure off the family. To this end they are having a huge raffle and a silent auction to raise some funds in support.
‘As friends of the Brinks who love and value Noah and understand how hard this is going to be on the whole family’, says mate Ben Kirkwood, ‘we are calling on all our friends, their friends, friends of friends, classmates, parents, teachers, teammates, anybody who cares about kids and those who might just hope that others would do the same thing for them, to buy our raffle tickets to assist the family at this difficult time.’
The tickets will be drawn and the auction will be closed on June 15. One hundred per cent of proceeds from both, as well as any cash donations, will go towards helping the family with their medical, travel and other extraordinary costs associated with getting Noah well again.
For anyone interested in keeping up with Noah’s progress or to contribute to fundraising, all the information is on Noah’s Recovery Facebook page.