Fifteen-year-old Ollie is bursting with life, despite dealing with sickness and painful surgeries for most of it. Ollie’s condition has meant he has needed the help of nearly all the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick medical teams.
Ollie was born with a clubbed foot and problems with his heart. Soon after, he was diagnosed with VACTERL Association, a rare condition that affects multiple parts of the body including the spine, heart, kidneys, and limbs.
The medical team had to decide not only how to treat all of Ollie’s conditions, but also which to treat first. At only two days old, Ollie received open heart surgery, and a spinal cord operation just one month later. Since then, he has undergone more than 30 major operations.
For the past fifteen years, Ollie’s mum and dad have trusted the hospital with the life of their beautiful little boy.
“When Ollie was born, we had our team pretty much ready to go. It was like surgery ‘Tetris’, with the doctors always trying to figure out what could happen first. We knew we’d have a lifelong relationship with the Hospital,” explained Tracy, Ollie’s mum.
When Ollie turned five, it was time to treat his club foot – and there weren’t many options. When an amputation was suggested as having the most certain outcome, Tracy and Aaron agonised over the decision and the impact it would have on Ollie, who was already passionate about soccer. But they realised an amputation and prosthetic leg was the only way to give Ollie full mobility and life. The surgery was a success.
But what came next was the most exciting - the day he was finally fitted with his prosthetic leg.
“When an amputation was first suggested, it was a bit of a shock. We still have the footage of getting him into the prosthetic and walking for the first time. Everything was just aligned and wonderful,” added Tracy.
Ollie is now a happy, funny and athletic fifteen-year-old who eats like his friends, goes to a mainstream school, and is a fierce competitor on the sports field and running tracks. Thanks to the help of Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Ollie has been fitted with a running blade and loves to run. He has made it all the way to state championships in cross country - his unwavering determination and lightning speed have earned him the nickname, Blade Boy.
“He's fierce, and courageous, and has a great sense of humour. He's a fabulous competitor and he loves his sport, and is a real team player. He really cares for and has an empathy for a lot of his mates, and people that go through things.”
This brave young man has spent a hefty portion of his childhood in intensive care, and touched so many departments within the hospital, where many pieces of equipment, staff and therapies are funded by the generosity of Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation’s Movement of Many.
Ollie has received care from so many different specialist teams within the hospital, he truly does represent all 158,000 children cared for every year. Today, you wouldn’t know by Ollie’s infectious grin just how much he has been through.
“If you have kids you love, you want to know that if they get sick, the clever people at the hospital have the tools, techniques, machines, and staff they need to fix them. For us, that’s been a gift we’ll never be able to repay. The hospital has given Ollie to us – beautifully healed and ready for life.”
Ollie is an inspiration to all of us. Stories like his are what drives all the incredible work Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation does every day. As one of the largest and most trusted kids’ health charities in the country, SCHF raises funds to help provide all children with access to the best possible healthcare, whenever and wherever they need it.