Bhutan twins Dawa and Nima

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Children First Foundation has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity for conjoined twins Nima and Dawa from Bhutan.  To date, a total of $140,000 has been donated to Children First and we thank you most sincerely for this wonderful support.

Following the launch of our appeal towards the cost of surgery, plus treatment and care for Nima and Dawa, we were delighted that Health Minister Jill Hennessy announced that the government would contribute to the cost of the separation surgery.  This is a wonderful show of care and compassion on the part of government and we thank Minister Hennessy on behalf of Bhumchu and Sonam, the girls’ parents.

This means that all donations received by Children First can be directed towards any additional care Nima and Dawa require now and following separation. For example mum and babies arrived with very little clothing so we’ve been able to address this need immediately.  There will also be the 24/7 treatment and care provided by Children First Foundation during recovery following surgery.

Mum Bhumchu is extremely grateful for all the support and good wishes being sent to her and her daughters; she also thanks members of the Bhutanese community who are providing her with home cooked meals each day.

Nima and Dawa underwent a series of tests at the Royal Children’s Hospital and were admitted to be monitored in preparation for surgery.  Surgeons decided the girls would benefit from a period of additional nutrition before separating them.  On 15 October they were discharged from hospital into the care of staff at Children First’s Miracle sMiles Retreat.  The hospital’s Hospital in the Home team will visit daily until they are happy with their progress. At the time of discharge it was thought surgery would be in two to three weeks, although this is not yet confirmed.   Please continue to keep them in your thoughts.

Thank you again for your compassion and kindness

Elizabeth Lodge
Chief Executive Officer


Help Bhutan twins Dawa and Nima

1 – Donate by phone on our toll-free number 1800 99 22 99

2 – Text TWINs to 0437 371 371 to make an online donation

3 – Visit the CFF donation page and select Twins18 as the campaign name

– Donate by electronic transfer via our online banking system to the account details below.

Bank: Bendigo Bank
Name: Children First Foundation (CFF Gift Account)
BSB: 633-000
Account number: 163045552
Reference: Enter your full name and “twins”

To receive a tax receipt for donations made by electronic transfer please email with the transaction details

With a group of 100 guests gathered together for a recent fundraising dinner, Children First Chairman Roger Langley took advantage of the occasion to introduce three new Foundation Patrons.

Gerry, Bernie, Roger and Noel

Roger announced that he was delighted that Mr Noel Baker, Mrs Gerry Lamers AM and Mr Bernie  Lamers AM had accepted the Board’s invitation to join the list of Children First Patrons.  Many of the guests in attendance were Rotarian friends of Noel and Gerry and husband Bernie, and long time  friends and supporters of Children First, so the announcement was met with huge applause.

The occasion was a Charity Dinner at Suwan Thai Restaurant in Lower Plenty,  generously sponsored by owner Woody Suwan, and organised by Gerry.  Woody donated the hospitality of his restaurant to raise funds to purchase equipment for the Foundation’s new physiotherapy room at the Miracle sMiles Retreat.

After guests enjoyed a sumptuous Thai feast courtesy of Woody and his staff, auctioneer Morrison Kleenan enticed generous bids for an array of auction items.   Foundation Patron Margaret Smith OAM and members of the Foundation Board were also among the guests.

About the New Patrons:

Noel Baker is a former Board Director whose relationship with Children First began through his connections with Southern Mitchell Rotary.  Noel and wife Janice donated the land beside their property, where the Miracle sMiles Retreat is situated.  He was involved in the building of the home, and over the years  has liaised with tradesmen on other projects on the site such as the Cabrini Barn and construction of the sheds.  When there were issues with water pumps, the dam, the driveway, Noel was on hand to fix or advise.  He also maintained the Retreat vehicles.  He helped protect the property on Black Saturday when fire threatened to engulf it.  Noel continues to provide sound advice and support.

Gerry Lamers has also been associated with Children First from the beginning.  She established the Labour of Love Auxiliary which comprised around 30 ladies, known as ‘Gerry’s Girls’ many of whom were senior citizens!  They held market stalls at large shopping centres several times a year, stocked with items they sourced, sewed and knitted.  They sold Christmas cards and promoted Foundation events.   Together under Gerry’s leadership and encouragement they raised a total of $202,550. 

Bernie Lamers is a builder, and member of Preston Rotary.  With Rotary 9790, Bernie was a key figure in the construction of the Retreat (formerly the Farm).  He continued to be the ‘go to’ person for all forms of advice involving tradesmen, building repairs and development both at the Retreat and the North Melbourne office.  Most recently Bernie has project managed the entire ‘Rehab at the Retreat Project’ which includes construction of the Physio Room, development of the swimming pool and renovations to the internal bathrooms.

Together, Bernie and Gerry have been, and continue to be generous, supportive friends of Children First.  


Another busy year at Children First has enabled more children to return home happy, healthy and hopeful after life-changing surgery. Follow their stories in the Miracle sMiles diary

Carols @ the Retreat, December 2016.

December 2016
As 2016 drew to a close Choity from Bangladesh, Daniel, Edward and Trophimus from PNG,  Innocent from Zambia, Kiko from Indonesia, Thierry from Madagascar, Pulei from Tonga and Theresa from the Philippines were celebrating the festive season with us as their treatment continued, along with ‘deputy-volunteer’ Eman from Palestine

January 2017
Innocent was admitted to Linacre Private Hospital for further skin graft with Mr Chris Coombs
Koko returned to us from PNG for further surgery to lengthen his leg

Innocent and Koko were both admitted to St Vincent’s Private Hospital for orthopaedic surgery with Associate Professor Leo Donnan.
Pulei returned home  having had a facial turmor removed at Cabrini with Mr Will Blake.
Thierry returned home after recovering from further orthopaedic surgery.

Edward returned home with No Roads – Health, to return later in the year to have growth plates removed
Theresa had surgery to reconstruct her jaw at Cabrini with surgeons Mr Jamie Burt and Mr Charlie Baillieu.

After undergoing world first surgery at Monash Children’s Hospital, where Associate Professor Chris Kimber and his team reconstructed her internal organs, Choity and her mother Shima were ready to return home to Bangladesh.  Her amazing story attracted national and international media coverage. Choity was referred to Children First by Atom Rahman’s AACHOL Trust.
Sadia arrived from Bangladesh for the fourth time for craniofacial surgery with Professor David David at Adelaide Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
Trophimus was admitted to St Vincent’s Private for orthopaedic surgery to rebuild his hip which had been destroyed by TB.

Theresa was admitted to Cabrini for skin grafts with Mr Nick Houseman and Mr Jamie Burt at Cabrini.
Innocent had his second orthopaedic surgery.
Vu and Tien arrived from Vietnam with their mothers, for surgery and treatment at the Craniofacial Unit in Adelaide.  Both have crouzon syndrome.
Daniel was admitted to St Vincent’s Private for orthopaedic sugery to rebuild his hip which had been destroyed by TB.

We welcomed Maria from Timor Leste.  Maria suffered with Arnold Chiari Malformation, which was causing progressive damage to her brain stem and spine. She underwent surgery with Mr Patrick Chan at Epworth.
Kiko returned home after treatment for a pituitary gland disorder.  Mr Peter McNeill operated at St Vincent’s Private Hospital.  There are plans for him to return for further treatment in 2018.
After three years undergoing surgery in Sydney and Melbourne, Theresa was able to return home to her family in the Philippines   Theresa won the admiration of everyone for her courage and determination throughout several surgeries to release burns contractures, intense physiotherapy and plastic surgery.  She’s an amazing young woman.

Teagan Glenane returned from Timor Leste where she enjoyed an emotional reunion with four Children First children from past years – Margarita, Tina, Angela and Martinho.  She also escorted Janelio and his mum Neria to Australia.  Janelio came for investigation for orthopaedic surgery.

Maria was able to return home to Timor Leste after successful surgery.
Vu and Tien returned to Vietnam after successful treatment in Adelaide.

No Roads -Health escorted Koko home to PNG, his treatment now completed, and returned with Edward who was ready to have his last growth plate removed.
Sadia returned from Adelaide to be cared for at the Miracle sMiles Retreat until it was time for her next surgery.  Surgeons had inserted expanders in her skull in preparation for further surgery which would take place in October.

Trophy, Innocent, Daniel and Sadia had a ball at the Gala Ball.
Janelio returned home after investigative tests recommended alternative treatment.  He will be monitored and expected to return in two years.
Imam arrived from Indonesia.  He is being treated for a pituitary gland disorder.
Edward underwent surgery to have growth plates removed.
Daniel was admitted for day surgery in preparation for his major surgery.

Daniel underwent further orthopaedic surgery at St Vincent’s Private.
Trophimus and Edward returned home to PNG.  Trophy may return for follow up treatment in 2018. Edward’s treatment is completed.
Innocent returned home to Zambia.

We first met Sadia in 2008 when she was 5 years old. Over a period of 9 years, she has undergone many procedures as surgeons have reconstructed her face.  Sadia returned home in December – another of the many children who inspire us each and every day with their courage, determination and sense of humour.

Photos: Teagan Glenane, Children First

“A teenager’s life has been transformed after surgeons used the power of magnets to trick his body into growing 6 cm of new bone….” reported Melbourne’s Herald Sun

The story reported how Associate Professor Leo Donnan used magnets to help Trophimus during orthopaedic surgery at St Vincent’s Private Hospital after Melbourne charity No Roads – Health had referred Trophy to Children First.

Prof Donnan and the hospital donated their services, and LifeHealthCare, one of Australia’s leading medical device distributors, donated all the implants, surgical instruments and external remote control machine used in Trophy’s surgery along with a staff member to offer support and advice.

Journalist: Lucie Van Den Berg
Photographer: Alex Coppel
Date: 27 November 2017
Media Release