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Heartfelt collection

Rebekah Garthwaite and her daughter Claudia who had open-heart surgery in March 2019. PHOTO/ANNA RUTHERFORD

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At this time of year, HeartKids volunteers are out on the streets collecting donations for the charity.

But this year, due to covid-19, the charity is taking its street collection online.

Rebekah Garthwaite is a Masterton mother who knew her daughter Claudia, 6, had a serious heart condition before she was born.

She had open-heart surgery in March last year.

“We’d been told that we needed to prepare to be away from anywhere up to six months,” Garthwaite said.

When Claudia was born, the Garthwaites had a 22-month-old son as well.

Heading to Starship Hospital around Christmas 2013, Garthwaite said HeartKids were there for the family and offered a lot of support while they were away from home.

“They provided Christmas presents for my son and provided vouchers for coffee and food while were in hospital.

“You’re spending a lot of time between the hospital and Ronald McDonald House – food costs when you’re away from home can add up quite quickly.

“Once we got back to Masterton, they made a lot of visits for us and stayed in touch to see how we were going. Because things are quite uncertain, it can be a lot of ups and downs and it’s quite hard because you don’t really know how to prepare yourself when you don’t know what you’re preparing for.

“But they were really amazing at that sort of stuff.”

Garthwaite said HeartKids was there to support her family.

“If you had a meeting with your cardiologist and the news is bad, it’s really good to come out to a friendly face.”

Garthwaite said one in every 100 babies that were born had a congenital heart defect.

“It’s actually very common.”

“Unless you have an experience of it first hand, you don’t realise what a difference it makes to your life, you’re spending quite a bit of time in hospital or preparing for going to hospital and not really knowing what’s going to happen so having an organisation like HeartKids there in the background holding your hand and touching base with you makes a really big difference.”

HeartKids is collecting donations at shakeabucket.org.nz

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