Charlee Rogers is home.
The Timaru 4-year-old and her family left Starship Hospital in Auckland last week, following Charlee’s heart surgery.
Her mother, Cherie Holman, said Charlee was recovering well after the operation, a Fontan procedure.
“She is doing amazingly,” Miss Holman said.
“She is like a completely different child now.”
The 10-hour operation had been a long time coming for Charlee, who was born with multiple, life-threatening heart problems and has had six operations so far.
The Rogers family travelled to Auckland in February and were not sure how long they would be staying at Ronald McDonald house while Charlee recovered from the palliative surgical procedure, which is used on children with complex congenital heart defects.
In 2015, the family were the benefactors of a fundraising campaign run by The Courier, which raised $30,000 from the community.
After many months of waiting for the operation, Miss Holman said it was a relief to have the procedure over and done with.
“She just has so much energy now.
“She can run around without getting puffed and can even almost keep up with her sister [2-year-old Mckenzee] now.”
Miss Holman said the family had been home earlier than they had expected, and were enjoying being back in Timaru with their family and friends.
Charlee would return to day care in a few weeks’ time. Her recovery now required keeping off play equipment.
“There is a risk if she is climbing and falls and gets knocked in the chest and because of the new medication she is on now there is a bigger risk of internal bleeding if she takes a knock.”
Charlee would be seen by the Auckland medical team, in Christchurch, in three months and then she would return to Auckland in six months for another checkup.
She still needed another open-heart operation to fix a leaking valve, deemed too dangerous to do with the Fontan procedure.
“That could be a year away – or three years away. They don’t know.
“We just take each day as it comes.”
Charlee’s heart problems comprise an atrioventricular septal defect, unbalanced atrioventricular canal, a double-outlet right ventricle, hypoplastic left ventricle and tetralogy of Fallot.
Charlee’s parents first spoke to The Courier in May 2015, when they put their two businesses on the market in preparation for their daughter’s heart surgery.
Since that first story, Charlee and her family have appeared on national television, radio and in Australian newspapers and were part of a campaign which resulted in hundreds of people, businesses and schools in Timaru and other centres in New Zealand and Australia dressing in blue (Charlee’s favourite colour) to raise money.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to Charlee and her family can make a deposit in the RSM LAW FCO Charlee Rogers Medical Trust account, account number 060889-0013032-02.