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MONKEYING AROUND

Since birth, six-year-old Mason Whitworth has soldiered through many unfortunate circumstances relating to his health. Refusing to let it get the best of him, Mason rocks a smile and seeks fun at every opportunity, leading Satan’s Little Helper to shout a day out with the family to do just that.

Mason was born with syndactyly, meaning fingers on both his hands were fused together. This slowed his ability to reach milestones such as crawling and feeding himself. Fortunately, at 14 months old, he underwent successful surgery to repair his hands, separating his fingers and allowing him to get back on track. Mason also suffers from Leri Weill Dyschondrosteosis, which creates short stature and bone deformation, meaning he experiences daily pain and fatigue. This has left his wrists permanently dislocated, and he has had to change the way he lives to limit the pain. When he was only four weeks old, Mason was diagnosed with meningitis, requiring lumbar puncture procedures and a week in hospital. During this time, it was discovered that he also has a heart murmur, which requires monitoring and the possibility of surgery if one of his heart valves fails to close properly. Other challenges Mason faces is level 3 autism and high levels of anxiety, requiring support being fed, getting dressed, and toileting. Because of this, Mason has limited communication skills. “Mason is our miracle child and we have been through a pretty tough rollercoaster ride as a family,” said Mason’s mum Samantha. Moved by Mason’s strength and his supportive family, Satan’s Little Helper arranged for them all to enjoy a day out visiting Orana Wildlife Park to see New Zealand’s only gorillas and orangutans, as well as the other zoo animals. Mason was also gifted a tablet that helps him develop communication skills and provide much-needed distractions and entertainment when in the hospital. “Mason had a blast!” said Samantha. “He most enjoyed seeing the gorillas and watching his dad and sisters feed them”. Landing right on his sixth birthday, HELL also shouted dinner, catering to Mason’s dietary needs and leaving just enough room for cake. “A massive thanks to Satan’s Little Helper! With what Mason and the family have been through, it was nice being at the zoo and seeing him be himself,” Samantha said.

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