Grandmother's heartbreaking bid to hold on to her grandson
IZAAC Barsah had a devastating start to life.
He and his twin, Taylor, were born nine weeks premature, and on December 23 2013, at just 18 months old, Izaac suffered a non-accident brain injury as the result of physical abuse, resulting in global brain damage.
Read Izaac's story here: Long recovery for family told little boy wouldn't survive
His grandmother Michelle and her partner Bruce rushed from Rockhampton to Sydney's Westmead Hospital where he was being treated. They were told it was unlikely he would ever wake up.
Despite being confronted with the devastating choice of turning off his life support, a brain scan showed a flicker of activity and his grandparents hung on to hope that one day his little eyes would re-open.
Over six weeks, Izaac's heart stopped, only for medical staff to bring him back to life. After 10 months of hospitalisation, Izaac was ready to come home.
Izaac was diagnosed with cerebral palsy left hemiplegia, spasticity and dystonia, scoliosis, cortical visual impairment, traumatic brain injury and global developmental delay secondary to the acquired brain injury.
Now eight-years-old, he lives with his grandmother Michelle along with his three siblings, but she worries about an uncertain future that could potentially see Izaac taken away from his family.
Because of Izaac's lack of mobility, he has to be carried in and out of Michelle's car.
"I have cortisone injections in my shoulder and back purely from lifting Izaac constantly and I'm unable to lift him any more. My partner does it but he had three heart attacks last year and I'm quite concerned about him doing it.
"He's a big eight-year-old, and is getting bigger. He will be a very tall person, that's obvious now, and in a couple of years we're just not going to be able to lift him any more.
Michelle said she feared that if the family could not get a car that was wheelchair-accessible, Izaac would be taken out of her care and given to a family who could provide that service.
"That's our fear," she said.
In May last year, The Morning Bulletin printed an article on Michelle's bid to raise enough money to buy a Kia Carnival and for Izaac's future medical expenses.
NDIS told Michelle they would provide the costs of modifying the vehicle (around $30,000) once she bought it, but unfortunately there haven't been any donations in 10 months.
"I'm distressed. I don't know what to do," Michelle said.
"I know there are people who are struggling and we don't want something from people who can't afford it, but we need to keep him in our lives. That's our priority. This is his home."
This year, Izaac will be having three more surgeries on his hip, arm and leg, and a peg feeding tube put in his stomach to help him consume more liquids, muscle relaxers and pain medication.
"We've had to stop all of his physiotherapy because his hip is out of place 75 per cent... and it causes him pain," Michelle said.
"Because of the spasticity in his arm, they will cut the tendons and stretch them in his hand and wrist and if they don't stretch enough they'll have to put in a metal plate to keep a nice position so his hand doesn't flex.
"His left hand doesn't have a lot of movement and is almost touching his arm because it's flexed all the way down.
"If it goes any further, because his fingers don't move and are stiff, the fingernails can grow into his palm.
"They're doing the same with his leg because his knees are crossing over and he can't bare weight, so hopefully this will give him more flexibility to put more weight on them."
Despite everything he has gone through, Izaac continues to brighten the lives of his family who "love seeing his smile every day".
There are days when Izaac gets frustrated and doesn't understand why he can't do the things his siblings can do.
"He has frontal lobe damage and that has a lot to do with his behaviour and compulsiveness," Michelle said.
"He can't relax and take a breather and gets really frustrated and cranky, which gets worse the older he gets.
"It doesn't look like he'll ever walk, but that's fine. He bum shuffles on the ground and his right arm is the only appendage that works."
He currently goes to school at North Rockhampton Special School, where he is "Mr Popular" and has made plenty of friends.
"He's going very well at school. He absolutely loves it," Michelle said.
"He catches a taxi to school in the morning with his teacher and I meet him at school and sit with him for the morning parade because loud noises affect him.
"He's quite good at putting sentences together now and although people who don't know him don't understand him, we do.
"He has a good sense of humour. He likes quoting his favourite movies like Frozen, Wreck it Ralph and The Grinch. He's cheeky."
Dig deep to help Izaac
See upcoming editions of The Morning Bulletin for an update on Michelle's fundraising bid.