Community, Health

Little boy’s mystery illness baffles medical experts

Heath and sister Piper are very close but have been separated while Heath is in Starship Hospital. Photo: Supplied.

A little Blenheim boy is battling a mystery illness that has almost cost him his life.

Heath Johnsen, 2, suffers from severe digestive issue which have left him unable to eat since he was just two months old.

The youngster has been flown to Starship Hospital by LifeFlight in Auckland where his worried family hope doctors can discover what is making him so sick.

His aunty Emma McKinnon says the family have fought hard for answers after Heath fell ill at just two months old.

“He’s lost almost two years of his life; it’s taken too long and we do feel a bit of anger about that.

Heath has spent more than 150 nights in Blenheim, Nelson and Christchurch hospitals over the last nine months. Photo: Supplied.
Heath has spent more than 150 nights in Blenheim, Nelson and Christchurch hospitals over the last nine months. Photo: Supplied.

“We knew something wasn’t right but were told he would grow out of it.

“He would scream in complete agony, but it wasn’t until he was 15 months old and weighed just 7kg that people started taking it seriously.”

Heath has spent more than 150 nights in Blenheim, Nelson and Christchurch hospitals over the last nine months.

But medical experts are still baffled, Emma says.

“Things were on the improve for a little while then it all came crashing down.

“Heath went from okay to being bad within hours,” she says.

A permanent IV line provides the nutrition he needs, but his health is still fragile.

Emma says he recently needed two blood transfusions in three weeks as he deteriorated.

“He’s baffled the medical teams in the South Island.

“Heath was also given another blood transfusion on Wednesday which helped perk him up.

“It has now become very serious and extremely concerning with that being the second one needed in just 3 weeks,” she says.

Heath’s mum Jess McKinnon, is in Auckland with him while his sister Piper Johnsen,6, stays at home with Emma.

His father Tiri Johnsen is spending the majority of his time in Blenheim, where is starting up his own business.

“Family is everything at a time like this and some days you would never get through if it wasn’t for each other.

“A journey with a sick child you would never wish on anyone and some days are beyond tough while other days bring so much joy,” Emma says.

The family need ongoing support to help them while they spend time with Heath.

“With Heath’s future at this stage being so unstable we can’t thank people enough for their generosity.

“Let’s hope Starship can offer some answers and reassurance our little man is okay.

“Any financial donation whether it be $5 or $50 is greatly accepted.”

Donations can be made to Grovetown School Parent Support Group (PSG), ASB 12 3167 0143314 00. Reference last name and/or donation. Use HEATH as the code.

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