When Blackfriars ELC student Harlan Hutchison and his family take their new camper trailer on holidays this Christmas, it will be a dream – or, more specifically, a wish – come true.
Harlan, 4, who has complex medical issues, was this month the recipient of a Starlight Children’s Foundation Wish.
“We talked about what Harlan might wish for,” Harlan’s mum, Teagan Fridmanis, says.
“He could have wished to go to Queensland and the theme parks, but we said, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to go camping?’.
“We came up with the idea of the camper trailer, rather than a one-off holiday. This way, we can pick up and get away whenever we want.”
Harlan’s health battles started before he was born. What was meant to be a “fun”, 4D scan, when Ms Fridmanis was 32 weeks pregnant, revealed some areas of concern. Further tests showed Harlan had a ruptured bowel.
Less than 24 hours after his birth, he had his first surgery, removing 10cm of his small bowel. He spent the next six weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, before finally going home to his family.
His bowel issues are ongoing; in April last year he developed salmonella and ended up in emergency surgery.
He also developed feeding issues, and now has a feeding peg he has dubbed “George”.
The family first learnt Harlan may be eligible for a Starlight Wish during last year’s hospital stay.
“The play therapist at the Women’s and Children’s asked if we had heard about Starlight. I had, but I thought that was just for children with terminal illnesses,” Ms Fridmanis says.
“But she (the therapist) said it was for kids like Harlan, who spend a lot of time in hospital and have a lot of treatment.”
She says, the “wish” aside, Starlight has made a huge difference to her son’s life.
“Starlight has made those trips to hospital so much easier,” she says.
Ms Fridmanis, who has three other children, aged 8, 6 and 2, says despite Harlan’s challenges, he always has a smile on his face.
And she says he loves his time at Blackfriars’ ELC: “He is in his element there. Blackfriars is just amazing; there are so many amazing opportunities for him.”
As for Harlan, he’s very much looking forward to his first camper trailer holiday.
“It (the camper trailer) is really big and they (Starlight) gave me marshmallows and chocolate to make s’mores!” he says.