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Never giving up the fight

Max’s mum Ashleah describes her son “as the most giving kid you’ll ever meet”, which says a lot about Max, because all the conditions he was born with seem to do is take and take. To give something back, Satan’s Little Helper sent him with a new set of noise cancelling headphones.

Max loves the headphones Satan's Little Helper got him

One of the battles Max has faced is bilateral duplex kidneys with vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). VUR occurs when urine in the bladder flows back into his ureters, and sometimes into the kidney – which put him at risk of kidney and bladder infections.

“Between his kidney, dental problems and tonsils, he’s had 14 surgeries and he’s only nine!” explains Ashleah.

Max’s kidneys are stable now, but that’s just the calm that followed the storm.

A little fighter

When he was just 17 days old, having been born prematurely, doctors delivered some terrible news.

“I was told to make Max as comfortable as possible because they’d done everything they could for him. When I heard that, I could just feel all the blood draining from my body.”

The specialists suspected he was going to die due to systemic kidney infection caused by septic shock from kidney infection. Thankfully, Max had other ideas.

“A little while later, the surgeon came back out and told us he’s a fighter – and he’s kept fighting ever since!”

And when he’s not fighting, he’s almost certainly giving.

“He’s a ‘kill them with kindness’ kid. He saves his pocket money and buys chocolate for other children at Christmas and Easter. Last year, Max donated eggs to 28 different families in the community and donated over 50 eggs to the De Paul House Charity in Auckland.”

Other battles

Now nine years old, Max currently battles with autism, sensory processing disorder, global development delay, ADHD and possibly OCD. Ashleah says his most pressing concern isn’t his kidneys, but the environment around him.

“He can experience a lot of sensory overloads when he’s in public, and often people aren’t understanding or kind. I’ve had some atrocious comments over the years from people in public when Max is stimming (repetition of physical movements as a protective response to overstimulation).”

Overstimulation isn’t a pleasant experience, so to help him avoid it, Satan’s Little Helper bought him a new pair of noise cancelling headphones!

Block out the noise

“We haven’t had any meltdowns in the shops, and that can be a really difficult environment for Max. The first place I took him after he got his new headphones was Costco and I was prepared for it to go really badly, but there wasn’t even a single peep out of him.

“I set him up with his iPad, so he could play a game while listening to David Attenborough. We got through the shop in less than an hour without a single meltdown, which is amazing.”

Ashleah says the headphones also fit “nicely around his glasses” and he can wear them for ages without hurting his ears.

“People don’t understand something as small as headphones can be so lifechanging! It’s so important for someone like Max.”


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