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Getting Christmas back

December 2021 was a tough time for Manaaki Kingi and the rest of his family, but some good news has given them the gift of Christmas.

Manaaki Kingi Satan's Little Helper and his LEGO

It all started with a back rub.

“Manaaki loves a back rub,” explains his mum Victoria. “Just before Christmas 2021, we were giving him one and we noticed that his spine wasn’t straight, so we took him to the doctor.”

The doctor referred Manaaki to an orthopaedic surgeon, who ordered an MRI scan. As far as Christmas presents go, a sack of coal would have felt like winning the lottery compared to what came next.

“I’d just dropped the kids off and was about to grab a bottle of wine to celebrate the MRI going well,” says Victoria. “I didn’t even make it to the shop, because my phone rung and the hospital told us to come back the next day.”

Blood run cold

The MRI had confirmed everyone’s worst fears. Manaaki had a 5cm spinal tumour.

“Before we found out the tumour wasn’t cancerous, it was a living nightmare. We tried to stay strong for him, but we couldn’t talk about it because of the uncertainty of it all.”

Surgery was carried out on Christmas Eve and Manaaki was confined to a wheelchair for a month.

“It was a really scary time, as he’d keep asking us questions that we couldn’t answer.”

Surgeons managed to cut away 80% of Manaaki’s tumour but, as some of it was fused to his spinal chord, the rest had to remain there. Because of that, Manaaki is at risk of relapse and has to have a scan every four months to make sure it’s not growing.

“It’s a bit of a waiting game, which can be horrible. But my husband and I are so proud of how he’s handled it. He never complains, he just carries on. Seeing him deal with everything gives us strength.”

Nothing stops him

Manaaki still moves with a bit of a limp, because of the muscle dystrophy he suffered while wheelchair bound, but he doesn’t let it get in the way of his life.

“I don’t know how, but he still manages to keep up with his friends at school. Nothing stops him!”

To reward the kid who lost a Christmas and a birthday to Starship Hospital, Satan’s Little Helper sent him a care package containing some LEGO and a new Plushy!

“When he saw the package, he was over the moon. He kept on saying ‘thank you, thank you’. He and his brother sat down and built the LEGO set in one day. The next day, he told his whole school what happened.

“He loves the Plushy too. He sleeps with it every night! It’s currently waiting for him on his bed.”

Victoria thinks the LEGO will help keep his mind off his next MRI scan – and is looking forward to a drama-free Christmas 2022.

“We got the all-clear from the last scan, which is a real weight off our shoulders. It means we can have a proper Christmas this year and relax over the next few months!”


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