Canberra father and son fight separate health battles amid Sydney lockdown | The Canberra Times | #students | #parents

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A Canberra father and son will be fighting health battles in adjoining Sydney hospitals from next week amid the coronavirus lockdown. Twelve-year-old Luca Kelly has been receiving treatment for leukaemia in Sydney since February 2020. The Theodore Primary School student received a bone marrow transplant at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, in March this year. His father Justin said the transplant appeared to be successful but his son was still in hospital dealing with the ongoing side effects of the major procedure and ensuring his immune system grew stronger. Mr Kelly, 37, has not only been dad but Luca’s primary carer, by his side 24 hours a day, even sleeping in a fold-out bed by his side. But last month, Mr Kelly himself collapsed by Luca’s bed in the hospital, feeling light-headed and finding it difficult to breathe. He stumbled to the emergency department and was found to have a faulty valve in his heart. The public servant now has to have open-heart surgery to replace or repair the valve. The surgery is due to take place on Wednesday at the neighbouring Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, separating him from his son. Mr Kelly, who also had heart surgery at 18, is apprehensive about the operation, more so because he won’t be able to be with his son as he continues to recover in hospital. “We have spent 24 hours, seven days a week together,” he said, from Sydney yesterday. “Even though it has been really hard for him dealing with the cancer, we now have a bond that is unbreakable. We’re best mates.” Luca, who loves music and the Melbourne Storm, was diagnosed with leukaemia in February 2020. He and his dad have been in Sydney since then, with Luca either in hospital or staying at Ronald McDonald House. The young boy has missed out on school and had to celebrate two birthdays in hospital. Mr Kelly has been working remotely the whole time but his own surgery means he will be in hospital for at least eight to 10 days and then facing weeks of recovery. Luca’s mum lives in Newcastle and Mr Kelly is his primary carer. Mr Kelly’s former partner Shari Lodding, stepmum to Luca for six years, has started a GoFundMe campaign for the family to help cover medical bills and mortgage payments. Ms Lodding and Mr Kelly’s brother are hoping to be able to see Luca so he is not alone in the hospital. “It is very hard,” she said. “Justin is very stressed about the surgery which means Justin will be quite stressed as well. “I want him to heal and get better and to not have to worry about bills and money.” Ms Lodding said despite his illness, Luca was “the happiest child you will ever come across”. “What he’s gone through and how quickly he’s had to grow up, he’s just amazing,” she said. “The strength that he has received from Justin, the full-on support, has really got him through. He’s just a beautiful kid. You walk into the room when he’s really sick and he’ll still give you a smile or crack a joke.” The GoFundMe page is here.


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