Media Release: Second chance at life for Ivan-Joe

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Thanks to the skills of surgeons and staff at Monash Children’s Hospital, and the support of Children First Foundation, Ivan- Joe Leo, aged 22 months, will soon return to his home in Papua New Guinea (PNG) looking forward to a healthy life.

Ivan-Joe was born with an encephalocele, a complex craniofacial abnormality that resulted in fluid collecting on the top of his head.  His mother Joselyn desperately sought help for him but the cost of treatment in PNG made surgery impossible and without surgery neurological deterioration was probable.

Joselyn eventually contacted Interplast Australia who in turn referred her to Children First Foundation.  After approaching Monash Children’s Hospital, who offered a humanitarian bed at no cost and medical assistance pro-bono.  The Foundation arranged Ivan-Joe’s passport, visa and flights to Australia and provided accommodation and care at Children First Farm in Kilmore.

Ivan-Joe was 14 months old when he arrived in Australia with his mother in February.  The weight of the fluid made it difficult for him to control or lift his head, he was unable to sit without support and was not crawling or speaking.

In March, surgeon Chris Xenos operated to insert a shunt to drain the fluid away.  Ivan-Joe was left with a ‘crater’ on his head until further surgery re-shaped his head three weeks later.  Physiotherapists at the hospital taught and encouraged him to become mobile, and this was supported by the managers and volunteers at the Children First Farm where Ivan has been cared for during his recovery.

Ivan-Joe’s transformation is incredible.  He’s crawling and walking around furniture, and calling out ‘hello’ to everyone he meets.  Ivan-Joe will return home on 30 August and can now look forward to a healthy life, with a beautiful round head!

Photo courtesy Jay Town Herald Sun

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