Shaving for a worthy cause

Shaving for a worthy cause

Michael Patterson will part ways with his long locks and healthy beard in the name of supporting children who have suffered with transportation of the great arteries (TGA).

The Patterson family spent many days in and out of hospital, parents Michael and Rachel caring for daughter, Phoebe, who was diagnosed with the disease shortly after birth in 1997.

Phoebe is now fully fit and giving back to the organisation which supported her – Heartkids – and so is her father.

Michael will shave off his hair and beard at a fundraiser at the Mechanics Hall on Thursday, February 28.

On December 23, 1997, Rachel and Michael Patterson welcomed their baby daughter, Phoebe. As soon as she was born they felt there was something not quite right. A short time later Phoebe’s oxygen levels were discovered to be alarmingly low.

The next 48 hours would be an emotional shock for her parents.

“It is all just a blur,” Michael said.

“By December 24 she was critically ill and whisked off by plane to the Royal Children’s Hospital.”

As there was no room in the plane, Rachel and Michael, along with Rachel’s parents, Paul and Gill, made a mad dash to Melbourne by car.

Upon arrival at midnight on Christmas Eve, they were confronted with the sight of Phoebe hooked up to wires, laying on a heat bed.

They were given the news that Phoebe had a heart condition called transportation of the great arteries (TGA). This meant her aorta and pulmonary arteries were opposite to where they should be.

She also had a hole in her heart, which was actually keeping her alive as a small amount of oxygenated blood could travel through her body.

On Christmas Day, 1997, Phoebe underwent a procedure called a balloon septostimy, which put more holes in her heart. This allowed more oxygenated blood to flow through her body.

After the operation, Phoebe was brought back to the ward. There, Phoebe went into cardiac arrest and a code blue emergency was called.

Much to everyone’s relief, Phoebe pulled through.

It was another seven weeks before Phoebe was big enough to have life saving correctional surgery.

Phoebe was in hospital for three months, with her mum Rachel being there the whole time.

After all they had been through, Rachel and Michael were finally able to bring their baby home to Lakes Entrance.

Over the years, and with numerous hospital visits to count, they were made aware of an organisation called Heartkids.

Heartkids is the voice for all people impacted by congenital heart disease, which is the largest cause of infant death in Australia.

Through this organisation, Phoebe was able to meet other Heartkids and make lifelong friends.

One of the supports available is an annual Teen Camp.

This event shows teenage Heartkids they are not alone, they are not different, they are unique. They learn to embrace their heart condition. They make lifelong friends.

“It helped give my daughter confidence to be herself,” Michael said.

“It empowered her to accept her medical conditions.”

At the age of 21, Phoebe is now giving back to this wonderful organisation, volunteering her time as a mentor at the camps. She is also part of the junior Heartkids committee.

Rachel, Michael, Phoebe and her sister, Felicity, and brother, Logan, have spent many years rattling tins for the Royal Children’s Hospital.

They felt the need to give back to both the hospital and Heartkids.

Heartkids runs a campaign throughout February called Show Your Heart and Michael has decided to support this worthy cause.

With the support of his family, Michael has decided to shave his hair and beard.

The event will be held at the Mechanics Hall, in Lakes Entrance, on February 28, between 6pm and 8pm.

Mat, of Mat’s Hair Factory, will be shaving Michael’s head.

There will be fairy floss, a slushie machine and a popcorn machine. Local choir groups will be entertaining.

Through the generous donations from Lakes Entrance businesses, there will also be many raffle prizes to be won.

This is a heart warming and positive journey the Patterson family have been on. It is hoped that as many people as possible can support this deserving event.

All funds raised will go directly to the charity so they can continue their wonderful work.

Donations can be made by visiting the Every Day Hero website and searching for Michael’s chop for CHD (heartkids).

PICTURED: Michael Patterson is shaving his beard and head at the Mechanics Hall, in Lakes Entrance, on February 28, between 6pm and 8pm in support of Heartkids, which supported his daughter, Phoebe, who suffered from transportation of the great arteries.