27
10
2014

Fundraiser gives back to heart kids

By DanielG 0

Five years after his heart was stopped for five hours, Jack Dunkerley took on a burpee challenge to give back to the charity that supported him and his family. Jack underwent open-heart surgery as a 2-year-old to repair a hole that was causing his heart to fail.

The toddler connected to tubes and wires was a stark contrast to the bubbly and healthy 7-year-old that marked the milestone on Saturday. Soon after Jack was born, his parents, Glenn and Heather Dunkerley, were faced with the frightening reality that their 3-month-old son was in the early stages of heart failure.

“We noticed Jack struggling to breathe so took him to a specialist. We knew it was serious when the specialist cancelled his plans for the rest of the day to do further testing on him. It was terrifying,” Mr Dunkerley said.

Jack’s tests revealed that blood was leaking from his heart to other parts of his body, including his lungs.

“When we found out about the hole we took him home that night and just sat on the floor and cried. We didn’t really know what it would mean … They said he was in the early stages of heart failure, which to the average person makes you think he’s got 10 minutes to live when in reality you can be in the early stages of heart failure for years.”

Doctors made the call to continue monitoring and wait until Jack was older to operate, but soon the hole in Jack’s heart grew bigger and doctors were forced to operate on him at age 2.

“His heart was stopped for five hours while they did the surgery,” Mr Dunkerley said.

“The scariest thing was whether they were going to be able to start it again because apparently that’s the risky bit. When we went in there and saw all the tubes and wires and how bad he looked, it didn’t matter because he was alive.”

Five years on and Jack runs around like every other 7-year-old, goes to SPEE Training and only requires a check-up every six months.

“He doesn’t think he’s any different from anyone else because it doesn’t hold him back in any way,” Mr Dunkerley said. ,More than 50 people gathered at Mount Drury for his anniversary on Saturday and raised $1123 for Heart Kids Bay of Plenty. ,Mr Dunkerley challenged the SPEE Training gym team to a one-minute burpee challenge with his company, Mount Maunganui Specsavers, donating $1 per burpee. ,Forty-nine people did a total of 1123 burpees, which exceeded all expectations, he said.

“I was expecting about 20 … Looking at the number of people who turned up I thought ‘that’ll be a good donation’.

“We can’t thank Heart Kids Bay of Plenty enough for their support over the years. The team offered us advice, told us what to expect and kept our minds at ease with moral support and reassurance. On the anniversary of our son’s surgery it’s our chance to thank them.”

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