Pop’s in the swim, in­spired by Rob­bie

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - ROCHELLE TETLOW Do­na­tions: bit.ly/Swim4Rob­bie

BRAVE Rob­bie Buchan is a trailblazer in a her­culean fight against meningo­coc­cal dis­ease — now he is throw­ing his beloved pop in the deep end.

Leigh Buchan, 57, is over­com­ing a life-long aver­sion to open wa­ter to swim 3.6km and raise money for Perth medics who save the lives of kids like his three-year-old grand­son.

“What the team at Princess Mar­garet Hospi­tal did was ex­cep­tional,” Leigh said.

“I have no doubt had he fallen ill any­where else other than here in Perth, and had his par­ents not acted so quickly, Rob­bie would not have sur­vived.”

While Rob­bie has lost most of his arms and legs, Perth burns spe­cial­ist Dr Fiona Wood led a team to de­lay the am­pu­ta­tions for more than a year, the long­est recorded wait in his­tory.

In the process — en­dur­ing daily changes to the spe­cial burns dress­ing on his necrotic limbs for 16 months — the tough tot has re­tained stumps on his limbs, suit­able for pros­thet­ics.

Leigh says while he can never re­pay the medics who have been by Rob­bie’s side as he “grew up” on the burns ward, he wants to salute them by fundrais­ing in the Bus­sel­ton Jetty Swim, in Fe­bru­ary.

Leigh, a seis­mic data man­ager, is ap­peal­ing to cor­po­rate Perth to spon­sor him.

His em­ployer, Cono­coPhillips, has kick­started the cam­paign, do­nat­ing $2000.

“It’s an in­vest­ment in their kids and grand­kids — ev­ery­one through their life­times, un­for­tu­nately, are go­ing to have deal­ings with the (Perth) Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal,” he said.

Rob­bie’s mum, De­siree, said Leigh’s fundrais­ing swim was an im­por­tant ges­ture to medics.

“No amount of words pays them justice — they are the rea­son we have our son,” she said.

Leigh is a for­mer beach sprint cham­pion at City of Perth Surf Life Sav­ing Club.

Rob­bie’s dad, Iain, says club mem­bers are chuck­ling at his fa­ther’s fundrais­ing plunge. “It’s well known around the surf club that Buchans are run­ners, not swim­mers!” he laughed.

Fam­ily bond: Rob­bie Buchan with his pop, Leigh, and his dad, Iain, at City Beach. Pic­ture: Richard Hatherly

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