Sixteen years ago, a baby girl was born at Cairns Base Hospital. We'd like to say she was healthy, but she wasn't. Baby Jasmyne Stead was born with a rare heart malformation – Ebstein's anomoly. What it means is that her heart valves didn't form properly. And although she has had countless surgeries, it will be a condition she lives with and deals with, forever. Jasmine has now endured two open heart surgeries, countless trips to the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department, numerous trips to Brisbane for other treatment, and about 10 sessions in the cardiac catheter lab for studies.
“We found out when she was 12 hours old,” mum Tracey explains. “The first three or four years of her life were spent on oxygen 24-7, then we went to just nightly oxygen and then only as needed. At the age of 14, Ben (paediatric cardiologist Dr Ben Reeves) started noticing some changes and that's when she had her second major heart operation which she's still recovering from. Before that surgery, she was a beautiful ballerina, she was into gymnastics. She danced every single genre. Now she's only going to school part-time because that's all she can manage.”
Ask Tracey if she knows about the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge and it's clear she does. “You guys funded that echo machine didn't you? We'd be up the creek without a paddle if that wasn't in Cairns. We have so much stuff here that people just take for granted. What you guys do is amazing.” Since her most recent surgery, Jasmyne has been seeing Dr Reeves, the only paediatric cardiologist north of Brisbane, monthly, but it looks like that can now be downgraded to bi-monthly. “She has normal teenage moments, but she's awesome, she is just awesome. We don't give up. We're not that story.”
A “quick” trip to Brisbane in January was required as her sternum wires had become infected. “We've often had the conversation about whether we move. But Cairns is definitely not the country hospital that it was 16 years ago. She is always a priority in there and we're very grateful for the people and services we have.”
Dr Reeves takes up the story: “The echo machine was worth about $180,000 and is used every day for children in the hospital aged from premature babies up to 18yo. The Foundation also donated a portable echo machine which I use for outreach trips up to the Cape and Torres as well as Yarrabah and Palm Island, catering mostly for indigenous communities. That machine cost about $80,000. Jasmyne has been through a lot in her life, especially over the last few years. As a baby it seemed on many occasions that she may not survive, and her latest surgery really was a big setback but she is now back at school, though very limited in what she can do in terms of exercise and activity. She has started doing some riding on an exercise bike to improve her fitness but can only manage a few minutes, compared to the Cardiac Challenge where riders are cycling over some pretty big ranges, spending between six and eight hours each day on the bike over the three days.”
The Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge is from Cairns to Cooktown, September 17-19, 2016.
For further information visit Cardiac Challenge.
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