Josh Frank’s heroic fight for life is inspiring others. Jonica Bray reports.
When Josh Frank shows off his chest scar, he tells tales of ferocious shark attacks and nasty crocodiles, but the truth is, this little boy is even braver than his stories.
His 25cm scar is the result of heart surgery – or rather, many surgeries. In fact, Josh’s heart is one of the most operated on in Australia. He has notched up 15 surgeries – and he is only eight.
The little battler from Willetton, WA, was just three weeks old when he had his first operation, but his mum Belinda says no matter how tough it gets, Josh never lets it get him down.
“He’s exceptionally brave. He’s my inspiration in life, because he continually amazes me with how much he puts up with,” she says.
“His heart has quite a few problems. The right ventricle is very small, he had no flow of blood from the heart to the lungs, and he had a very large hole in the heart as well.”
Josh’s problems were diagnosed when Belinda was pregnant.
“The cardiologist gave us a range of options,” she recalls. “One was termination, another was letting him go through his life cycle naturally, or he could have operations.
“We opted for the surgery.
We thought if he made it through the pregnancy, then he was obviously a little fighter. We were prepared to give him every opportunity we could as parents, and that’s what we’ve done.”
The hospital became a second home for Belinda, 38, husband Michael, 38, and their daughter Jayde, 10, with Josh admitted on average every three months.
“The first operation took about 10 hours,” recalls Belinda. “They put a shunt [artificial tube] in his chest, sewed him up, then took him out to the holding area.
“Before they could take him to ICU, his oxygen levels plummeted; he was in big trouble."
Read the full story in this week's Woman's Day, on sale April 26, 2010.