Charlotte is all heart
By CRAIG McTEAR
CHARLOTTE Pearce hasn't even turned two yet, but she's already demonstrated a remarkable will to live.
The delightful Coffs Harbour toddler has had to endure three rigorous bouts of open heart surgery, and she'll have to spend more time on the operating table in the years to come.
When you watch her at play, she appears to be just like any other happy little girl. But talk to her mum, Julie Boyan, and you soon begin to realise Charlotte has had to overcome some extraordinary hurdles .
Julie and her partner, Glen Pearce, were ecstatic when Charlotte was born on December 17, 2004, but that happiness turned to horror six weeks later when her local doctor noticed a slight tinge of blue in her face.
It was a sign of heart trouble, and when test results confirmed dangerously low oxygen levels in her blood, Julie and Glen were told Charlotte had to go to Sydney immediately.
Cardiologists at the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick discovered she'd been born with two holes in her heart, and no connecti
She was transferred to the care of specialists at the Westmead Children's Hospital, where she underwent open heart surgery in February and October last year, and again in April this year.
Charlotte has also been subjected to a series of tests and four other vital procedures during this time, with regular trips to Sydney a necessity for pre and post-operative checks.
Ronald McDonald House, which provides accommodation for the families of sick children, has been a home away from home for Julie and Glen and their family, who have had to stay there for two to three weeks at a time.
"It's allowed us to remain together as a family unit while Charlotte has had to receive treatment," Julie said.
"They're a wonderful support, it's a marvellous service to the community.
"Charlotte's thriving now, and we're just so happy.
"It was our worst nightmare to have something wrong with our beautiful little girl. We had naturally thought she was healthy.
"It was terrifying. You don't know the hospital system until you're in it.
"It's a world of confusion, with countless numbers of doctors and specialists visiting you.
"The second and third time around, you know what to expect. You're more equipped to handle it.
"We have a story to tell, but our's is certainly not unique. There are hundreds of families in our situation."