Family keen to back project

JAYDEN Beamish had open heart surgery three weeks ago to mend a hole in his heart.

Jayden was born with a heart defect, and now at three-and-a-half years-old, he's helping the Preston James Fund raise money for research into new techniques and equipment for children's life support.

When Jayden was in Mater Children's Hospital, his worried parents were asked to participate in cardiac research which monitors the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and now the toddler is one of many children to feature in a publicity campaign to raise awareness of children's respiratory research.

The team at Mater is leading the world in this research and is hoping to one day create a life support machine that will measure the flow.

That will allow them to maintain the desirable levels of blood and air to the heart of a child, which ultimately saves lives.

Jayden's mother Sonia said life support machines were designed for adults, and Preston James was researching more appropriate mechanical ventilation techniques that addressed the unique breathing patterns of children.

“Preston James is doing research to learn how to make life support machines more suitable for children,” Sonia said.

“I'm of the understanding that children who need to be on a life support machine for long periods of time can end up with damaged respiratory systems,” she said.

At the Mater Children's Hospital Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, 60 to 70 per cent of children admitted require life support in the form of mechanical ventilation.

The difficulty is, not all children respond to standard types of ventilation, particularly if they have lung injuries.

Olympic gold medallist Grant Hackett has also lent his support to raise awareness of children's respiratory research, and in his first public appearance as ambassador of the Preston James Fund, toured the Mater Children's Hospital Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Hackett's interest in respiratory research stems from his own respiratory illnesses.

In 2004 in Athens, at his second Olympics, he overcame serious respiratory illness to defend his Olympic 1500m crown, winning the gold medal.

Hackett's presentations to large corporations include images of Jayden, and so far fundraising has raised more than $175,000 which has led to significant advancements in respiratory research for children.

Sonia hoped by telling her son's story it would create more awareness for an issue that had, up until recently, not been addressed.

“The Preston James' Research Fund is not government-funded or assisted by the Mater,” she said.

“It is purely self-funded, so make a donation by visiting the Preston James website.

“It will go towards vital research to save children's lives.”

Gympie Times


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