Healthy 2018 kids – it takes a team.

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It takes a whole team of people with commitment, skill, passion and generosity to change the lives of seventeen kids.  In 2018 it took two orthopaedic surgeons, four neurosurgeons, three craniofacial/maxillofacial surgeons, three plastic surgeons, three paediatric surgeons, a vascular surgeon and a radiation oncologist.

In addition there were another 23 anaesthetists and other specialists, teams of nurses in theatre and wards, numerous physiotherapists and allied health specialists, pharmacists and dentists.

It also required some of Victoria’s leading hospitals – Cabrini, Epworth, North Park, St Vincent’s Private and Royal Children’s Hospital all working alongside Children First’s donors and supporters, staff and volunteers!

With construction of our physio room and pool renovations underway outside, and bathroom renovations inside, we delayed bringing more children for surgery until April 2018.  This year we’ve cared for Daniel, Trophimus, Foyok, Serah, Alma and Annfredda from PNG, Imam and Kiko from Indonesia, Maria from Timor Leste, Silia from Tonga, Haneen from Syria, Clera, Kylie and Jack from Vanuatu, Rachel from Zambia and Nima and Dawa from Bhutan.



Daniel, Imam and Kiko returned home after fairly lengthy stays with us – Daniel underwent orthopaedic surgery in 2017 followed by an intensive physiotherapy program.  Kiko and Imam each had a pituitary gland disorder: Kiko had returned for maxillofacial surgery associated with the condition, having had successful surgery the year before, and Imam required radiation treatment. We thank Epworth Hospital, surgeon Professor Andrew Heggie and radiation specialist Mike Dally.


Silia had a huge tumor on her face, which had been slowly growing for five years.  She was referred to us by our friends at Interplast after it was determined it could not be removed in Tonga. She was able to return home four months after surgeon Will Blake successfully removed the tumor at Cabrini.

Haneen was experiencing severe and continuous pain due to a vascular malformation of her right leg.  Surgery and physiotherapy made a great difference to her pain and mobility – thanks to surgeon Professor  Tony Pennington and St Vincent’s Private.  A month after she and her mum returned home it was wonderful to receive a video showing Haneen’s walking had further improved.  “She’s still doing her stretches and is no longer using crutches,” wrote her mother Hanan. “All her family have said they have noticed the difference in appearance of her leg as well as the way she walks . She still got a little bit of pain at night but nothing like she had.”


Our PNG trio – Serah, Foyok and Alma arrived around April, and little Annfredda joined us in October.  Serah and Alma underwent orthopaedic surgery  with Assoc Prof Leo Donnan and will return home in time for Christmas, although Serah will return in the new year for continuing treatment.  Foyok will remain with us for physiotherapy for a little longer after undergoing plastic surgery with surgeon Scott Ferris to return some movement in her hand.  The nerves controlling her hand were damaged when a tree fell on her.  Last but not least,  surgeon David Chong repaired fifteen month old Annfredda’s cleft lip at Northpark Private and she’ll return home for Christmas.

Maria, Trophy and Kylie each returned for review during this year. Maria had a concern following recent surgery which fortunately required no further attention.  Trophy’s surgeon wanted to see how he was travelling a year after surgery to repair his hip and lengthen his leg – he’s great and will go home soon.  And Kylie returned home after being fitted with a new prosthetic leg, excited because the new design means she can now wear jeans!


In addition to little Annfredda, we have three other ‘toddlers’ at the Retreat.  Two year old Jack arrived with his mum in June.  He had a naso-frontal encephalocele, a neural tube defect that resulted when the bones in his skull failed to close during pregnancy.  His condition was found to be more complex than first thought requiring neurosurgery before the encephalocele could be removed on 27 November.  The good news is he’s doing well after both these high risk procedures and he looks fantastic.  Thanks to surgeons Alison Wray, Jonathon Burge and Professor Tony Holmes and their teams at Royal Children’s Hospital for their wonderful care.  We sincerely thank all those supporters who donated so generously to make these two surgeries possible.

Formerly conjoined twins from Bhutan, Nima and Dawa are our other two toddlers – well they’ll be toddling soon!  They were discharged from Royal Children’s Hospital just 16 days after being separated and are now being cared for and undergoing physiotherapy at our Retreat in Kilmore.  “They’re going ahead in leaps and bounds,” said Retreat Manager Debbie Pickering.  We thank surgeon Joe Crameri and the entire hospital team for their care and the Victorian Government who generously provided funding for the girls surgery.  The Australian community’s generosity was further reflected in the generous donations to Children First towards caring for Bhumchu and her daughters at the Retreat, and the many gifts sent to the girls from all over the country.


Rachel and and Clera are our most recent arrivals.  Rachael has been suffering extreme pain and difficulty walking for many years, and she’s currently undergoing assessment to determine its cause before treatment can be planned. Young mum Clera has lost her vision due to a tumor which is being investigated.

We’re delighted to work with our referral partners No Roads Foundation and Interplast Australia & New Zealand to help these children.  We also thank LifeHealthCare, Stryker, Surgical Specialties, Smith & Nephew, Depuy Synthes, KLS Martin, MIA and Dorevitch, Icon Cancer Centre, ProMotion Prosthetics for contributing equipment and services to the treatment of the children.

Fantastic outcomes thanks to a wonderful team!