News

Decade-long medical journey finally ends for Fairlane

Fairlane Tui and grandmother Yvonne Tui are nearing the end of an 11-year medical journey.Photo Lucy Smith / Daily Mercury
Fairlane Tui and grandmother Yvonne Tui are nearing the end of an 11-year medical journey.Photo Lucy Smith / Daily Mercury Lucy Smith

LIKE many eleven-year-olds, Fairlane Tui has a carefully written wish list.

She wants a brother. With six younger sisters and a sibling on the way, that might come true.

She wanted a dog, and Coco the puppy recently filled that gap.

Now Fairlane is about to get her biggest wish - her neck brace will be removed in less than four weeks.

She'll be able to swim in a pool, wash her hair (although her grandma and carer Yvonne Tui is "naughty” and does that despite doctors' orders) and have a shower for the first time in a year after October 17.

It will be the end of an era - the Mackay girl has survived a decade-long medical journey.

Fairlane was born healthy in New Zealand, but contracted life-threatening bacterial meningitis when she was three months old. She spent the next couple of years in and out of hospital, undergoing numerous surgeries.

By the time she was seven, she'd moved to Mackay and was suffering from spine curvature, a condition called severe Kyphoscolios. A rod was surgically inserted into her back.

In November last year, she had a restrictive and occasionally painful "traction” brace attached to her body. She had to drag a weighted contraption behind her, wherever she went.

In February, it was replaced with a neck brace, her "halo”. During the brace replacement, Fairlane underwent spinal surgery to have a rod permanently fixed to her vertebrae.

Then, something terrifying happened - she suffered a stroke and went into a coma.

"Two to three weeks later, she came out of the coma on her own. My God, I saw her twitch,” Mrs Tui said.

"The doctors in ICU came running and then there was a twitch again.

"Two days later, she turned to her side... It was a really emotional time, but we were over the moon. It was like a huge weight had been lifted.”

That surgery will hopefully be Fairlane's last major operation. The rod in her back should last a lifetime.

Fairlane weighs 28kg. She's shorter than most 11-year-olds, and while her limbs may grow, her torso is unlikely to.

Without having undergone spinal treatment, Fairlane wouldn't be walking today.

Mrs Tui said her granddaughter had been inundated with community support - from the Presbyterian Church, from the Lions Club (Mrs Tui is the president of the Mackay Host Lions Pacific Island Community), the Cook Island community, hospital staff and staff at Beaconsfield State School.

One teacher, Miss Randall, visited Fairlane in hospital in Brisbane and the family home in Mackay.

Mrs Tui said her granddaughter was remarkably resilient and rarely complained. After surgeries, she's had to re-learn to walk and after her coma, she had to re-learn to eat.

She couldn't participate in sport, even though she wanted to, and she'd had to "put up with people staring at her”.

"She's been a real inspiration to a lot of people in Mackay,” Mrs Tui said.

"She's not the sooky-cry type kid. She's a bit weird like that, most kids would be whinging.

"I say 'You can cry if you want'. She says, 'I don't want to cry, what for?'”

Instead, she's danced. Fairlane performed traditional Cook Islands dance solo at Pasifika earlier in the month and has performed at retirement homes.

As soon as Fairlane's neck has strengthened after the removal of her "halo”, Mrs Tui will organise a pool party for all the friends, hospital staff, church friends and family who have supported and looked up to the little girl.

Topics:  health, mackay, medical


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Swooping season has begun

A magpie on the touch field at Kearneys Spring Sporting Complex, Saturday, August 27, 2016.

Spring is here and the magpie swooping season has begun.

Construction starts on Hoods Lagoon boardwalk

BOARDWALK WORKS: Cameron, Ashlynn and Sandy Frost walk along Hoods Lagoon, Clermont.

Hoods Lagoon boardwalk rejuvination begins.

From Casino to CQ: Emerald bull sales

SENEPOL BULL SALE: Vendor Colin Godfrey with son Blair.

The Godfrey family travel a long way to sell bulls at Emerald.

Local Partners

CH Regional Council heads to Blackwater

Central Highlands Regional Council recently visited Blacktown to give locals the opportunity to discuss local issues with councillors.

Unveiling ceremony to honour victims of flood

AFLOAT: Floating Lantern Ceremony at the Clermont Gold and Coal Festival paid tribute to the great flood in Clermont in 1916.

VICTIMS of Clermont's 1916 flood will be honoured in ceremony.

Swooping season has begun

A magpie on the touch field at Kearneys Spring Sporting Complex, Saturday, August 27, 2016.

Spring is here and the magpie swooping season has begun.

Construction starts on Hoods Lagoon boardwalk

BOARDWALK WORKS: Cameron, Ashlynn and Sandy Frost walk along Hoods Lagoon, Clermont.

Hoods Lagoon boardwalk rejuvination begins.

From Casino to CQ: Emerald bull sales

SENEPOL BULL SALE: Vendor Colin Godfrey with son Blair.

The Godfrey family travel a long way to sell bulls at Emerald.

Coal truck driver suing mine he crashed at

Former mine truck driver who crashed 280-tonn truck suing Anglo Coal

Black lung must be investigated, and fast says victim

Percy Verrall suffers from 'black lung' disease caused by his time spent coal mining.

'I don't want young people working in the mines to go through this'

Rural property: hot to trot

RURAL PROPERTY BOOM: Maguires Real Estate and Livestock owner, Tim Maguire at the saleyards where the price of cattle is influencing the rural property market.

Rural properties in high demand.

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Bonus point gets Dan and Carleen over the line on The Block

Dan and Carleen in their winning living and dining rooms in a scene from The Block.

BABY boomers win living and dining week as show hits halfway mark.

Olivia Wilde having a girl

Olivia Wilde revealed she is expecting a baby girl.

Michael Palin: Terry Jones dementia is 'painful' to see

Michael Palin has found Terry Jones' decline "painful to watch"

Daniel Radcliffe hoped for haircut anonymity

Radcliffe thought shaving his head would make him more anonymous

Jim Carrey slams 'shameful greed' of lawsuit

Jim Carrey has slammed the "shameful greed" of White's ex-husband.

'Highly unlikely' Brad Pitt will face prosecution

It is highly unlikely that Brad Pitt will be prosecuted

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Rocky proves prime real estate in latest REIQ report

Kas Woch sold this Wood St home in Depot Hill for $107,000 in August.

A new investor's market as Rocky house prices hit lowest in state

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record