Kezzia Taylor’s eyes light up at the mention of her cherished son Tiger.
It’s no wonder because the cheeky five-year-old’s survival has been nothing short of a miracle.
Tiger was born with oesophageal atresia (long gap) with tracheo-oesophageal fistula – a rare condition meaning his food pipe was not connected to his stomach but instead had connected to his wind pipe.
Just hours after his birth, doctors found air was travelling down his food pipe into his stomach which was starting to bloat.
“We spent five months in the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital Brisbane where Tiger was fitted with a tracheostomy tube to enable him to breath,” Ms Taylor recalls.
“And we had a lot of developmental work ahead of us. Tiger had to learn to eat because the natural instinct to eat is lost after three months.
“From birth, Tiger didn’t eat orally until therapy started at eight months old and it took the good part of a year to master eating and drinking.
“This is how we met the incredible team at the Child Development Service, who helped us overcome Tiger’s developmental hurdles.”
Ms Taylor’s family admit the emotionally-charged years and constant care of Tiger took a substantial toll on the mother-of-three.
In 2015 Ms Taylor fell pregnant with her third child, Indie, and due to the worry of another complicated birth and overwhelming stress of Tiger’s care, Ms Taylor suffered a nervous breakdown which first resulted in slow speech.
“At 38 weeks pregnant Kez fell over and broke her ankle in three places,” friend Nicola O’Leary says.
“Her labour was induced and she had to endure surgery shortly after to insert plates. Kez returned home in a wheelchair and a healthy newborn baby in her arms, but she has been unable to walk properly since then and has been unable to carry her baby. “Her speech has now steadily declined to the point where she cannot be understood so she must communicate via text message, even when speaking face-to-face with someone.
“This condition was diagnosed by two neurologists who are both of the opinion that the nervous breakdown was caused by acute stress.”
Ms Taylor, who has no cognitive impairment, now communicates with visitors through her iPad and enlists in the help of around-the-clock carers to assist her and her children.
“Tiger going to school this year has made me really proud,” she writes.
“All the hard work I put into him has paid off and St Thomas More Primary School have been fantastic accepting Tiger.
“They welcomed him with open arms and since I’ve been sick the past couple of years, they have been really supportive and keep a close eye on Tiger’s big sister Harmony (seven).”
Tiger’s grandmother Jenny Harris, who now lives with Kezzia, said doctors have attempted to remove Tiger’s tracheostomy tube five times, but with no success.
“Tiger’s speech has been affected with the tube, but hopefully it will come out this year,” Ms Harris said.
“He’ll learn to cope with his breathing and he is learning to communicate in sign language.
“Other than going for regular check-ups, he does everything the other kids can do. He loves playing with cars, his iPad, gymnastics and jumping with his sisters on the trampoline.
“There are lots of hugs and kisses, and the children are always so loving and supportive of each other.”
Wishlist directed $1.4 million towards the refurbishment and relocation of the Child Development Service in Maroochydore.
It has been the major beneficiary of Mix FM’s Give Me 5 For Kids campaign and has helped thousands of young patients with development delays.
“If it wasn’t for the help of the Child Development team I think I would have felt alone in the community and completely overwhelmed at how to get Tiger past these hurdles,” Ms Taylor added.