Boy recovers like a miracle
Unconscious for 11 days
Strict diet and exercise is more than just a new year’s resolution for one Ascot Park family – it’s a matter of life or death, after their ‘‘miracle boy’’ recovered from a mystery illness.
The Felagai family spent two and a half weeks in Auckland’s Starship children’s hospital after son Jazziah, 7, had trouble breathing while at Otaihanga beach on January 27.
‘‘Jazzy usually loves the water but on that day he didn’t want to go in the water,’’ mum Tee Felagai says. ‘‘He’s a water baby. I thought ‘ oh no, something’s wrong with him’.’’
Jazziah was born with Prader-willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which slows intellectual development, and also gives sufferers an unstoppable hunger. Jazziah’s large size has meant he has slept with a respirator since mid-2011, but he had never needed hospital care for breathing difficulties before.
As Jazziah’s breathing got worse the family rushed him to Kenepuru hospital, and he was transferred to Wellington Hospital that night, then rushed by Life Flight Plane to Starship the next morning.
He was diagnosed with pneumonia and an enlarged heart, but doctors could not find a cause for the sudden illness, Ms Felagai says.
The family was beside themselves. ‘‘Going to Starship, that’s serious,’’ Ms Felagai says. ‘‘I was freaking out.’’
Jazziah might love his Life Flight stuffed toy plane now, but he was unconscious for the real flight due to heavy medication.
He remained unconscious for 11 days, during which time specialist doctors rushed off their summer holidays to treat the sick boy.
‘‘They thought he wasn’t going to make it,’’ dad Solo Luapo says. Jazziah would frequently stop breathing for 20 seconds at a time.
Porirua’s close community pulled together for Jazziah, who his mum describes as having a magnetic personality – ‘‘ He attracts people.’’
Jazziah’s principal from Holy Family School, Karl Vasau, rang from his holiday in Australia to wish him well. Mr Vasau’s niece, who used to be Jazziah’s caregiver, travelled from Rotorua to be by his side.
Ms Felagai had been posting photos of her son’s ordeal on Facebook, and says the messages of support she received from friends and family pulled her through. ‘‘Everybody prayed for him on Facebook.’’
Jazziah finally opened his eyes on January 7. The next day he was bouncing around out of bed, and was able to return home on January 13.
‘‘They called him a miracle boy for waking up like that,’’ Ms Felagai says.
It’s not back to life as usual for the Felagais, however – the family is under strict doctors’ orders to help Jazziah lose weight, even to the point of locking the kitchen door so he can’t snack.
He had already lost a lot of weight in Starship – he was 73 kilograms when he flew to Auckland, and came back 62kg. ‘‘It’s brown toast now, not white toast,’’ Ms Felagai says.
Flying high: Ascot Park boy Jazziah Felagai, 7, enjoys life after a miracle recovery. He was rushed by Life Flight plane to Starship hospital just after Christmas, and is now on a strict diet to help his breathing, says mum Tee Felagai.