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The art of distraction

Two-year-old Luka has been through countless medical examinations and procedures in his short life, with more lined up ahead. To help Luka get through the stress and boredom of his hospital appointments, Satan’s Little Helper called upon the art of distraction. 

Luka Smith got a present from Satan's Little Helper!

Luka was born with a rare birth defect called bladder exstrophy epispadias complex, which means his bladder was formed inside out and developed on the outside of his body. He was also born with twisted hips. 


He was just one-day-old when he had his first operation, which required a six-week recovery period at Starship. More operations followed due to complications that arose from the first one. 

His mum Chloe explains:  


“His first surgery was to repair and fix the issues with his bladder. It was also supposed to tighten some of the muscles in his bladder to give him more control over it, as toilet training is currently difficult.” 


Theatre regular 


Unfortunately, Luka needs to go back into theatre for further procedures, which will take his total surgery count to six in just two years. He is also currently using a catheter, which isn’t a long-term solution and will need to be removed in the near future. However, Chloe says he doesn’t let that get in the way of his sweet personality. 


“Although he lives with such a rare, horrible condition, he’s the happiest, sweetest little boy!” 

Luka’s condition also causes complications elsewhere, says Chloe. 


“His kidney function is reduced as a result of his condition and they frequently become infected. The catheter he has in now is because they were so swollen, he could barely go to the toilet.” 


Growing up in waiting rooms 


A related issue caused by Luka’s frequent hospital visits is his reaction when he needs to go in for treatment. Chloe says it’ll often take a team of nurses to treat Luka because he’s so traumatised. 


“In the past, he’d need up to four nurses to check catheters or sedate him before procedures because he’s a big boy and he normally puts up a fight because he’s so scared.” 


One thing that has been a successful distraction is art. Luka loves to get creative in lots of different ways – so, when Satan’s Little Helper heard about his story, there appeared to be a great way to help him out. A big haul of art supplies were sent to keep Luka happy and to help him focus on something other than his time in hospital. 


Chloe says it’s been a great success so far! 


“We had a brief hospital visit to Wellington after his-art set arrived. We took his new colouring books and Crayola set from Satan’s Little Helper with us, which kept him occupied. The doctor could do the required assessment and minor procedure without complications, and we didn’t need a gang of nurses there to help! 


“It’s also great when we’re in waiting rooms, as Luka can use his art set and that helps to stop him thinking too much about what we’re there for. It’s been a massive help!” 

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