Coast teen needs life-saving surgery on other side of world
THE only thing standing in the way of this Coast teen living his life to the fullest, is money.
Tyler Henricks, 14, was born with a congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries meaning his blood and oxygen flow the wrong way.
On top of that, his coronary arteries are also around the wrong way.
As soon as he was born he was taken from the arms of his parents and within the hour underwent his first surgery.
Living with his parents and two younger siblings in Warana, Tyler now faces a new challenge after discovering his right artery is completely blocked.
The Lady Cilento and St Vincent's Hospitals are unable to help him any further, so Tyler's only hope is to travel to specialised cardiac surgeons in America.
His father Mark said once the left artery blocks it's "game over" for Tyler, but there's no telling when that could be.
"What gets me and what I can't figure out is they can operate on a baby not even a day old, but they can't do anything for him now at the age of 14," Mr Henricks said.
"He knows all about it, he understands the situation.
"He takes it a lot better than I do, I don't cope too well."
Mr Henricks said the oldest living person with TGA was 30 years old, but if his son manages to get the surgery there's no hard-and-fast guarantee on how long it would prolong his life.
While Tyler still tries to enjoy life as much as he can, he's had to make a lot of sacrifices including missing out on representing Australia in soccer in Brazil.
"We had to cancel because the hospital said he couldn't do anything," Mr Henricks said.
"That was probably the hardest part, telling him that."
But, there's a glimmer of hope for the Henricks' in the form of a Gofundme started by a woman the family hardly knows.
An ad Mr Henricks put on Gumtree looking for jobs as a spray painter which was answered by childcare worker Annie Scanlan started the serendipitous encounter.
When Ms Scanlan dropped her car off for a touch-up, the pair began talking about the family's situation and she was so moved she started the fundraiser.
At the time of writing more than $700 of $35,000 had been raised within 24 hours and the page had been widely spread across social media.
"He came across just as an absolute genuine human being that was busting his balls... trying to work to raise money to save his son," Ms Scanlan said.
"When you're in a position of being able to help someone the choice is easy."
Ms Scanlan said she's been happy with the response so far and had faith the community would pull together.
"It's huge money that they need and they don't have it," she said.
"That's what community is all about, getting behind people when they really need it."
Mr Henricks said he didn't have the words to describe how frustrating it was that his son's future relied on money, but that his family's hopes had been "lifted a heap" by Ms Scanlan's gesture.
"If I had money, he would have been there last year," he said.
"I'd go anywhere for him.
"But, I'm hoping once the story gets out that maybe things will change a lot more."
To help Tyler make it to America for life-saving surgery, visit www.gofundme.com/savingtylerhenricks.