News

Decade-long medical journey finally ends for Fairlane

Fairlane Tui and grandmother Yvonne Tui are nearing the end of an 11-year medical journey.Photo Lucy Smith / Daily Mercury
Fairlane Tui and grandmother Yvonne Tui are nearing the end of an 11-year medical journey.Photo Lucy Smith / Daily Mercury Lucy Smith

LIKE many eleven-year-olds, Fairlane Tui has a carefully written wish list.

She wants a brother. With six younger sisters and a sibling on the way, that might come true.

She wanted a dog, and Coco the puppy recently filled that gap.

Now Fairlane is about to get her biggest wish - her neck brace will be removed in less than four weeks.

She'll be able to swim in a pool, wash her hair (although her grandma and carer Yvonne Tui is "naughty” and does that despite doctors' orders) and have a shower for the first time in a year after October 17.

It will be the end of an era - the Mackay girl has survived a decade-long medical journey.

Fairlane was born healthy in New Zealand, but contracted life-threatening bacterial meningitis when she was three months old. She spent the next couple of years in and out of hospital, undergoing numerous surgeries.

By the time she was seven, she'd moved to Mackay and was suffering from spine curvature, a condition called severe Kyphoscolios. A rod was surgically inserted into her back.

In November last year, she had a restrictive and occasionally painful "traction” brace attached to her body. She had to drag a weighted contraption behind her, wherever she went.

In February, it was replaced with a neck brace, her "halo”. During the brace replacement, Fairlane underwent spinal surgery to have a rod permanently fixed to her vertebrae.

Then, something terrifying happened - she suffered a stroke and went into a coma.

"Two to three weeks later, she came out of the coma on her own. My God, I saw her twitch,” Mrs Tui said.

"The doctors in ICU came running and then there was a twitch again.

"Two days later, she turned to her side... It was a really emotional time, but we were over the moon. It was like a huge weight had been lifted.”

That surgery will hopefully be Fairlane's last major operation. The rod in her back should last a lifetime.

Fairlane weighs 28kg. She's shorter than most 11-year-olds, and while her limbs may grow, her torso is unlikely to.

Without having undergone spinal treatment, Fairlane wouldn't be walking today.

Mrs Tui said her granddaughter had been inundated with community support - from the Presbyterian Church, from the Lions Club (Mrs Tui is the president of the Mackay Host Lions Pacific Island Community), the Cook Island community, hospital staff and staff at Beaconsfield State School.

One teacher, Miss Randall, visited Fairlane in hospital in Brisbane and the family home in Mackay.

Mrs Tui said her granddaughter was remarkably resilient and rarely complained. After surgeries, she's had to re-learn to walk and after her coma, she had to re-learn to eat.

She couldn't participate in sport, even though she wanted to, and she'd had to "put up with people staring at her”.

"She's been a real inspiration to a lot of people in Mackay,” Mrs Tui said.

"She's not the sooky-cry type kid. She's a bit weird like that, most kids would be whinging.

"I say 'You can cry if you want'. She says, 'I don't want to cry, what for?'”

Instead, she's danced. Fairlane performed traditional Cook Islands dance solo at Pasifika earlier in the month and has performed at retirement homes.

As soon as Fairlane's neck has strengthened after the removal of her "halo”, Mrs Tui will organise a pool party for all the friends, hospital staff, church friends and family who have supported and looked up to the little girl.

Topics:  health, mackay, medical



Week of highs for Bundaberg Sugar

SWEET: The sugar crush is going well.

There is plenty of good news for Bundaberg sugar

Bundy skating rink to close after 30 years

MEMORIES: Koby Irvine at Extreme Skate Zone.

End of an era for rolling skating rink

Local Partners

Lady Gaga confirms Super Bowl show

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga to perform in coveted spot

Girls actors give emotional tributes to hit show

Actor Allison Williams

Actors farewell smash hit HBO show Girls after six seasons

Janet Jackson's pregnancy is 'best thing'

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson can't wait to become a mum

Jay Z signs two-year movie and TV deal

Rapper Jay Z

Rapper Jay Z has signed a television and movie deal

Nowhere to Hyde: Matt Nable is Australia's man in demand

Matt Nable stars as Detective Gary Hyde in the TV series Hyde & Seek.

NABLE returns to the small screen amidst busy film work.

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E7: Manifest review

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Developers boost confidence in Bundaberg property market

Slow and steady growth has always been Bundaberg’s way

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual