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The gift of freedom for heart kids on warfarin

Regular blood testing is a normal part of life for three-year-old Charlie Ryall.

This brave pre-schooler was literally born with only half a heart, the left side of his heart was underdeveloped and unable to pump enough blood to the body. He has already endured three open-heart surgeries and countless procedures since birth to correct the defect that would be fatal if left untreated.

Following the recent Fontan procedure in May, he has to take a daily dose of the blood thinning drug warfarin to help his heart. The effect of the drug needs to be monitored carefully with blood testing to determine the correct dosage.

For many heart kids on warfarin, blood tests are done in labs or clinics where blood is drawn from the arms. The experience can be traumatic especially for younger kids. Thankfully, with the Coaguchek home testing device gifted to the Ryall family by NZ Toy Distributors Association (NZTDA), Charlie can have the blood test done in the comfort and convenience of his own home.

The device is easy to use and non-invasive. A finger prick is all that is required to draw enough blood to provide an accurate reading. The entire test can be done in a few minutes and the result is available in seconds.

Mum Mel loves the independence and freedom from self-monitoring at home. “It’s a very handy machine. It’s very good to be able to use it with Charlie at home so we don't have to take him out to clinics especially in the cold Dunedin weather.”

Charlie’s Coaguchek is one of 20 kits generously donated by NZTDA to the Heart Ward (Ward 23B) at Starship Children’s Hospital, through the Association’s partnership with Heart Kids.

Chris Stephens, charity spokesperson at NZTDA said the Association is pleased to assist Heart Kids again by providing another year’s supply of Coaguchek kits to Ward 23B at Starship.

“Play is the way children learn. Many heart kids like Charlie spend much of their time in hospitals for surgeries, medical treatments and tests. With the Coaguchek home-testing device, they are freed from time spent in clinics and can make time for play that is so important to their childhood development,” said Chris.

Rob Lutter, CEO of Heart Kids said, “The Coaguchek machine is not funded by the government and is another medical expense that many families can’t afford. We are hugely grateful to NZTDA for their continued support of Heart Kids. Their generous donation will make all the difference to heart kids on warfarin in need of this specialised equipment.”

About Heart Kids New Zealand

Heart Kids NZ is the only organisation in New Zealand dedicated to providing lifelong support for all those affected by childhood heart conditions.

Started in 1980 by two heart mums due to a need for parental information and support, the network continued to grow and formalised itself as Heart Children Incorporated in 1984 and subsequently changed its name to Heart Children New Zealand Incorporated. 

With an increasing number of adults surviving childhood heart conditions, the organisation has responded by extending its support to heart children throughout their lives, not just in their younger years.

Heart Kids NZ ( now stretches across the nation providing kids, teens, adults and families affected by childhood heart conditions with free access to its 50+ services. The charity is a non-government organisation and is not affiliated with the Heart Foundation. Charity Registration CC20102.

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Heart Kids NZ

Rob Lutter


09-377 9950 X 804; 027 244 8331

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