Five year old Zayne Hunter-Pakeho has already been through open heart surgery and a coma, so when his mum asked Satan’s Little Helper for some equipment that would help his rehab, it was an easy decision to make
At two-years-old, Zayne should have been exploring the world and finding out the wonders it has to offer.
Except he was lying unconscious in Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Starship Hospital.
“I can’t remember the time he was in PICU,” says his mum Chyvaurne. “I just went numb. All I’d do is sit in the hospital for 16 hours a day then go back to my room at night.
“When I think back, I realise I was in complete denial. When he was at his sickest, my mindset was that I was always taking him home, so I was super unprepared for the worst to happen.”
What’s the worst that could have happened? Well, Zayne was in a coma for 27 days and doctors told Chyvaurne that he might not wake up.
That’s not all. Once he woke up, Zayne had to undergo lifesaving open heart surgery. Again, Chyvaurne was warned that he might not pull through.
That all happened because an unknown heart condition had triggered a brain injury, renal failure and a coma.
Catastrophic health failure
“Zayne has two heart conditions,” explains Chyvaurne. “The first one is due to a birth defect, the second is endocarditis. Due to his birth defect, one of his heart valves doesn’t work but when he contracted endocarditis, a growth made of germs and cell mass attached itself to his defective valve, which resulted in his body shutting down.
“It’s extremely rare that it happens like that. Doctors say he got unlucky.”
Unlucky is an understatement. When Zayne came around, he’d lost his speech, cognitive skills and fine motor skills.
“At that time, Zayne was three but had the mental capacity of an 18-month-old,” says Chyvaurne.
He’s now five and has to live with prophylaxis – which means his heart disease can come back and cause further damage at any point in his life. However, his cloud does have a few rays of sunshine poking through it.
“Zayne has progressed better than his doctors said he would! He’s almost got his full vocals back and he’s re-learned how to walk. Plus, he’s started school.”
There are still areas he needs to work hard at, which is where Satan’s Little Helper stepped in.
“He lost all strength in his body after his coma. Zayne couldn’t lift his head off his bed, so we’ve had to build his strength up. A good way to do that is with playground set as he can build muscle and play at the same time. We’re super grateful to Satan’s Little Helper for sorting one out for us.”
By using the play set, Zayne will build his agility, stamina and motor skills. He’s still a little uncoordinated, explains Chyvaurne, and has poor balance.
Satan's Little Helper steps up
“He uses the play set to climb a lot, which helps improve his muscle strength and balance. Getting him active is also important for his future – we’ve been told he’ll need another heart operation, so he needs to be as healthy and fit as possible for that.”
Besides physical health, it provides other benefits.
“It’s also amazing for his socialisation. We struggle to take him to parks and playgrounds because he has sensory issues, but a play set means his friends and cousins can come here and they can play with him no worries.
“All he keeps saying is that he wants to be a normal boy and something like this provides that for him.”