THE Byron Bay community is rallying around the family of nine-year-old Noah Brink, who tomorrow faces open-heart surgery in Brisbane.
The Grade Four St Finbarr's student was recently diagnosed with a serious heart condition, the result of a 15mm hole in his heart, and now faces surgery and recovery that will take weeks in intensive and special care units.
Family friend and Noah's soccer coach, Ben Kirkwood, of the Byron Beach Cafe, said the close-knit business and school community was in shock at the news, but was pulling together to raise funds to support the Brinks.
"Noah is one of my son Harrison's best mates; they've been together since pre-school," Mr Kirkland said.
"It was such a shock to everyone when we found out; very emotional."
"Noah is an amazing, positive little kid. He's being very stoic about the situation and his attitude gives us a lot of encouragement.
"A group of friends have got together to try to raise as much as we can for the Brinks, and the support and donations we've had from Byron business has been overwhelming," he said.
Miguel and Justine, Noah's parents, will have to either leave their jobs, or take extended unpaid leave to support and care for Noah while he is in the Mater Children's Hospital, leaving no income for the family, Mr Kirkwood said.
Friends of the Brinks have set up a Facebook page, Noah's Recovery, and rallied Byron businesses to donate to a raffle and silent auction with the goal of raising at least $5000 to financially support Noah's parents and two siblings during this time.
"Meeting nine-year-old Noah Brink is definitely an unforgettable experience," explains the Noah's Recovery Facebook page.
"His energy, enthusiasm and curiosity for life make him stand out amongst his peers. His compassion for others, humour and intelligence, along with his perfect manners, give him a special charm you don't easily forget. He's just that kind of kid."
Prizes donated so far include a night at the five-star Villas of Byron (value $750); a $300 meal for four at The Beach Cafe and many more prizes, while the silent auction includes two nights at The Grand Buree's of Byron (value $1300) and a photo shoot with Donatella Pari- sini (value $750).
Tickets for the raffle are $10.
For more information visit the Noah's Recovery Facebook page.
If you are not on Facebook, but would like to donate, email Taliah Lowry: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Every day in Australia six babies are born with a heart defect
- About 32,000 Australian children aged under 18 years are living with congenital heart disease
- Some children acquire heart conditions during childhood. A disproportionate number of indigenous children suffer from acquired heart disease - often as a result of rheumatic fever, prevalent in many communities
- Up to 20% of heart defects are gene-linked. Children have congenital heart disease - not coronary, which is what most adult heart patients have.