Cheeky chops: Clara Brown loves the camera.
By HEATHER SMITH
WHEN Darren and Nicole Watt’s son Cooper was eight months old, he spent many weeks in Randwick Children’s Hospital with suspected meningococcal disease.
While the cause of his blackened limbs and swollen body was never determined, the time they spent in hospital gave them an appreciation for the commitment of the doctors and nurses, with whom they developed a special bond.
So when they heard about the case of four-year-old Clara Brown, the Helensburgh pre-schooler who is battling an aggressive form of leukaemia with regular chemotherapy sessions at the hospital, their hearts went out to the family.
“It just took us right back to what it was like for us,” said Mr Watt. “We wanted to do something for the family, as Clara is friends with our daughter, Madeline, and we wanted to do something for the hospital.”
The Watts, along with Happy Hearts Pre-school where the girls met, have organised a charity walk from Helensburgh to Wollongong Harbour on Saturday, February 11 to raise money for the Randwick Children’s Hospital.
“The people who work at the hospital are extraordinary and their professional, dedicated and caring approach to their role is amazing,” Mr Watt said.
“We are confident that Clara and her family will be comforted by these incredible people in their ongoing fight against leukaemia.”
Clara’s mother, Michelle, said her daughter was diagnosed on October 15 last year after many weeks of tiredness, fevers and loss of appetite.
“Her white blood count was 800,000 and it’s usually 10,000,” Mrs Brown said. “She was raced to Randwick Children’s Hospital by ambulance and spent eight days in ICU. She had fluid on her lungs and was on a ventilator for five days – we nearly lost her.”
Mrs Brown, who had to give up her job as a teacher at Woollooware High School to care for her daughter, said Clara missed Randwick Children’s Hospital when she wasn’t there.
“She can’t go to pre-school anymore as she’s immune suppressed so she misses her friends from the hospital.”
Clara was coping well with her illness, sporting a broken wrist from a trampoline accident like many other exuberant youngsters.
“She asks about losing her hair – she had thick curly hair – why she doesn’t go to pre-school and the central line that had to be inserted but otherwise she’s fine.”
Mrs Brown and her husband, John, immigrated from the UK in 2008, moving to Helensburgh in 2009. She said the community support had been amazing and she was incredibly grateful for the kindness that had been shown.
Clara continues to undergo chemotherapy and will also need a bone marrow transplant in the near future.
To participate in the Kids Walk for Life or to donate, please contact Mr Watt on 0410 343 221 or visit www.gofundraise.com.au/page/walk
Shared experience: Nicole and Darren Watt with their children and Michelle Brown with Clara.