Changing lives one child at a time
A typical case is baby Keleka, who was recently treated at Starship Hospital in Auckland. Keleka arrived from Samoa suffering from a critical heart condition. After five hours of surgery, Keleka’s little heart was functioning normally and over the next few weeks he doubled his weight. He was able to return to Samoa after a total of eight weeks to great celebration in his remote village.
Seven-year-old orthopaedic patient Edwin, who suffered with deformed legs, is another ROMAC success story. Edwin was flown in from Vanuatu with his mother Sonya for treatment at Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. Within days of his arrival he had the necessary surgery to remove a stainless steel plate from his leg and replace it with eight new plates. Sonya was delighted to see the improvement and Edwin certainly enjoyed his new freedom of movement. He will return again for another assessment within the next 12 months and his feet will also need straightening.
Another ROMAC patient is 16-month-old Specialina and her mum Samara, who were flown into Brisbane from Nauru. The little toddler had a complex heart condition and was a very sick little girl. Open heart surgery was performed the day after their arrival by the Mater cardiac team, and Specialina spent three days in Paediatric Intensive Care. She was then transferred to the High Dependency Unit, where she made excellent progress.
Five-week-old Timorese baby Bras was born with a birth defect that severely affected his digestion. He and his mother Ervina come from a primitive village in East Timor with no electricity or running water.
Soon after Bras’ birth Ervina and her husband realised he could not keep his food down. He weighed only 1.9 kilograms when he was brought to Dili, where he was diagnosed and put on a glucose drip to keep him alive.
Canberra’s Neonatal Emergency Transport System came forward (in partnership with the NSW equivalent) and agreed to bring Bras and his mother from Darwin to Canberra. Just 48 hours after arriving in Canberra Bras underwent surgery and his weight soon increased by 50 per cent.
Thousands of families face dilemmas like these every day. They mostly live in remote villages or islands and are unable to access basic medical treatment. These are the children and families whose lives are changed by ROMAC.
ROMAC is funded entirely by donations, with around 50 per cent from Rotarians and Rotary clubs, plus bequests and public support. These donations are vital to ROMAC’s ongoing efforts to help disadvantaged children.
ROMAC is operated as a multi-district Rotary organisation, run entirely by volunteers, without any wages, office rents or other expensive overheads, enabling every dollar donated to ROMAC to go directly to saving a child’s life.
To request a ROMAC presentation and learn more about the children they help and how easy it is to be a host Rotary club, the joys of being a carer or an occasional patient driver visit www.romac.org.au or www.romac.org.nz
Image: Seven-year-old orthopaedic patient Edwin