Brayden Richardson was only back at school for one day, before having to fly to the Royal Children’s Hospital for his yearly check up.
The seven-year-old was born with craniosynostosis – a condition where fibrous sutures in the skull fuse into bone.
At 14-months-old he underwent emergency surgery to reconstruct his forehead.
His four-year-old brother Rileigh is also no stranger to the hospital, having undergone nine surgeries to treat cataracts in both of his eyes.
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Between them, along with mother Toni Ford, the family have made more than 40 trips to Melbourne.
“When Brayden was born, the midwife noticed that the soft spot on the front of his head was in a different spot,” Ms Ford said.
“Soon we had the doctors and the pediatricians around my bed and he had x-rays and scans, which showed his front sutures were fixed.
“After that there were a lot of appointments and then the surgery. They basically break the bones and put dissolvable plates in place.
“When Rileigh was born, he had cataracts in both eyes.
“They removed the left one at three-and-a-half months, but then he developed glaucoma.
“He has had nine surgeries in that one [left] eye. Unfortunately now, there isn’t much vision.
“In November last year they removed the right cataract and so far there is no sign of glaucoma.”
Along with the emotional burden, Ms Ford said the financial toll of travelling so often had also taken its toll.
Fortunately, the family have been able to benefit from the David Chaplin Memorial Trust, which was established by The Examiner in the 1960s to assist Tasmanian families with children needing to seek care interstate.
David Chaplin was just a toddler when he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition.
After being given just months to live, the community raised more than twice the £2000 needed (more than $100,000 in today’s currency) to get the boy to the USA for surgery.
Sadly the travel was too much for David, who succumbed to the condition upon landing in Los Angeles – 2000 kilometres and two days short of a potential cure.
Today, his name lives on in the memorial trust.
With Rileigh requiring surgery in November last year and Brayden due for a check up this month, Ms Ford said she decided to ask for help.
“The support from the [David Chaplin] trust has been amazing,” she said.
“We were doing it a bit tough after Christmas and my social worker reassured me that it was OK to ask for help.
“We’ve benefited from the fund before, but this was the first time I asked for the help and I’m really glad I did.”
On Friday Brayden, who lives with a moderate intellectual disability, will meet with a specialist at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
Ms Ford said she was optimistic it will be the families last interstate trip for a while.
“I do get down about it all and I always think something bad is going to come up,” she said.
“My life used to be hectic and I would need to go to Melbourne every two or four weeks – hopefully now it will be a lot less often.
“Rileigh doesn’t know much better with his vision, because he was born with it.
“Brayden knows what happened to him. We try to stay positive about it all.”
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