New heart gives new life

15/09/2016

JOHN Nomoa will probably never take for granted the ability to run and play games with his mates.
That's because he knows what it's like to not be able to do the things normal healthy, active kids do.
The now 13-year-old had a heart transplant two years ago as a result of a genetic heart condition, diagnosed by Cairns Hospital paediatric cardiologist Dr Ben Reeves.
“He just suddenly came along with some breathlessness three years ago and after some examinations, we diagnosed cardio myopathy,” Dr Reeves said.
“He had to move to Brisbane for about 18 months so he could be within two hours of a transplant centre, which at that time was Melbourne,” he said.
John received a new heart 22 months ago and to say his life has changed, would be an understatement.
“I can run and play and do the things that everyone else does now,” John says.
“I just remember being woken up at 5 o'clock in the morning and told we had to go, that there was a heart for me,” the charismatic teenager says.
Sadly, John's 11-year-old sister is now in Melbourne awaiting a heart transplant for the same condition.
“I try to talk to her about what I went through – I couldn't really run before, I'd get short winded and now I can run really fast,” John says.
While he is on medication for life, John is looking forward to the future.
“I think I'll probably be a doctor so I can explain to other kids what I went through,” he says.
John was diagnosed using a piece of equipment funded by the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge which Dr Reeves says is an essential tool for his patients.
“We see every day how the fundraising undertaken by those incredible riders and their sponsors, makes a difference to people's lives so all I can say is to tell people to get behind them and support them as much as they can,” Dr Reeves said.
The Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge is a fundraising bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown, raising funds for cardiac services in the Far North. 2016 is the event's 10th year and 350 cyclists are
registered.

Photograph: Dr Ben Reeves and John Nomoa are calling for donations in the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge.

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