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September 2012

Child with nurse jpeg

Monash Children’s nurse Christy with Ivan-Joe Leo.

Ivan-Joe jpeg

Ivan-Joe Leo before surgeries.

A new life for Ivan-Joe

A Papua New Guinean boy has returned home to a brighter future after a medical team at Monash Children’s Hospital performed complex surgery.

But six months ago, Ivan-Joe Leo, 22 months, could not sit up by himself, nor crawl or speak.

Ivan-Joe was born with an encephalocele, a complex craniofacial abnormality.

The abnormality caused fluid to collect on the top of his head forming a football-sized lump.

His desperate mother sought help and the Children First Foundation arranged Ivan-Joe’s passage to Australia.

Ivan-Joe’s treatment involved inserting a shunt tube to drain fluid from his head into his stomach, then sealing his brain and rebuilding his skull.

The second, more complex operation took more than eight hours and a big team of surgeons.

Southern Health neurosurgeon Chris Xenos said Ivan-Joe now had a better shot at life.

‘He’s a lot more vocal and a lot more mobile. He doesn’t stop now.

‘It means, hopefully, he can fulfil all his potential as he grows up because there’s no longer pressure in his brain from excess fluid and that defect has also been repaired.’

Ivan-Joe’s mother, Joselyne Sari, said the final eight-hour operation was life-changing for the whole family.

‘It was like a miracle.’

The Children First Foundation arranges life-changing surgery in Australia for children from developing countries where such treatment is not available.

             Ivan-Joe’s emotional journey can be seen in a three part video at