Family 4WD fundraiser to honour the sweetest of hearts

Inspired: Jess and Jason at Pughs Lagoon. Picture: Simon Bennett
Inspired: Jess and Jason at Pughs Lagoon. Picture: Simon Bennett

Just shy of 17-month of age, Izac Ryan already knows what it means to be a fighter.

The brave youngster spent the first four months of life in hospital after being born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

It is a severe congenital heart condition where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped and cannot support main blood flow around the body.

It is considered one of the most severe heart defects, leaving most babies ill and in need of surgery within days of birth.

Such was the case for Izac.

"He was basically born with half a heart," said dad Jason.

Little fighter: Baby Izac.

Little fighter: Baby Izac.

"He was born on the 15th of September, 2019 and he had his first operation at two days old on the 17th of September. He then had his second operation on the 6th of January and then came out on the 20th of January.

"He's got another operation at three-years-old.

"He's going really well now - he's a big boy now - you wouldn't even think he'd had heart surgery. He's coping really good. He has really high anxiety, but that's settled down a bit. He's doing a lot better than he was. He's a fighter."

Needless to say it has been a stressful time for the family, which includes mum Jessica and the couple's six other children.

"From the time Jess was seven months pregnant I had to give up work to keep up with appointments and surgeries," said Jason.

"Now that he can go to care I am in the process of going back to work, but its hard because people think 'he's been out of work for so long, what's the situation here' and you don't want to go through a sob story'."

Jessica said that it had been a trying time on many levels.

"My parents had to have my children the whole four months I was in hospital and it really put them through a depression," she said.

During their time in hospital, the family came into contact with Heartkids, a not-for-profit group dedicated to supporting and advocating for children with heart disease and their families.

"They have been the best support for us," said Jessica. "They were the first ones that reached out to us when we got to hospital and they offered us financial support, and me personally, they offered me a psychology appointment, due to the fact that I had and continue to have post natal depression."

To give back to the group, Jason and Jess have been busy organising Sweetheart Day, which will be held this Sunday, February 14.

The 4WD fundraising event will kick off at Pughs Lagoon in Richmond at 11am with a barbecue.

After lunch those with 4WDs will head to Wheeny Creek for a bush run and more than likely a stop at the Colo for a cool off.

The couple will be selling Heartkids merchandise on the day - bracelets, towels and socks - with all proceeds going back to the group.

Jessica said threy hoped to raise $1000.

"We're relying on donations for the day, like sausage and drinks," said Jason.

"We really want everyone to enjoy their day, come together and hear about Heartkids," said Jessica.

Those looking to donate something towards the barbecue, or add to the charity cause, call Jason on 0450 635 661.