Charlie’s story

It was up to Charlie if he would survive, and he proved to be a true fighter.

Charlie was just about to leave Redlands Hospital with his Mum and Dad, Kanitha and Casey, when the usual checks discovered this tiny two-day-old baby had a serious heart condition.

“Charlie was taken straight to Queensland Children’s Hospital from the Redlands Hospital in a Medivac Capsule (incubated) via ambulance,” Kanitha recalled.

“Once he reached Queensland Children’s Hospital he was put on many drugs, oxygen and tubes to stabilise him and we had to wait and see how he was going to go.

“It took the doctors a few days to make sure what his condition was and then they diagnosed him with congenital heart disease (dysplastic mitral valve).”

In the first few months of his life, Charlie spent more time in hospital then at home – including a long stay for open-heart surgery at about four months old.

“The goal originally was to get him to grow as much as possible before they wanted to operate, but he was not growing so they had to attempt the operation, which is not normally done due to the size of the baby,” his mum recalled.

“If it was any of the other three heart valves it would have been much easier to repair but the mitral valve is not easy to repair in a baby. However, there was no choice and the operation had to be done.”

That first operation went for nine hours. “They managed to repair the valve, but two days later the stiches let go on the repair and it failed.”

“Charlie stopped breathing and was rushed onto the life support machine.”

Charlie stayed on life support for four days before he was strong enough to be operated on again.

This second operation went for another nine hours. This time, surgeons were unable to repair the valve.

“We were told the doctors had no option but to use the mechanical valve.  The smallest mechanical valve was almost the size of his heart and a very risky operation,” Kanitha said.

“We were told that we would have to see how the next few days went after the operation and that there was nothing else they could do.”

"It was up to him now.”

It was up to Charlie, and little Charlie proved to be a true fighter.

He will be on blood thinners for his entire life and requires his bloods to be checked every three days – or more often if he is unwell.

Charlie’s future will involve more heart surgeries, although it is hard to know how many, because the mechanical valve does not grow with the heart and will need to be replaced as the heart grows.

Charlie is one of 19 ambassadors for the Woolworths Regional Wall Tokens campaign.

By purchasing a $2 wall token from now until the end of September, you are helping fund equipment and programs in your local hospital, which help families like Charlie’s through an emotional, stressful, and at times uncertain journey.

Woolworths Regional Wall Tokens is an opportunity to highlight some of the brave kids throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales, who you can help by purchasing a wall token.

Other ways you can help

Everything we do for sick and injured kids is made possible by the generosity and support of our donors, partners and the community.