Meet Aru and Arlo
Meet our little ambassadors for the 2023 Good Friday Appeal. Both Aru and Arlo needed life-saving heart surgery and treatment from the Royal Children’s Hospital cardiology team.
At just two years old, Arlo is sweet and social, radiating confidence and a cheeky sense of humour—by looking at him, you would never know that he was born with half a heart.
With an extremely rare condition called hypoplastic right heart syndrome together with five other heart defects, Arlo was diagnosed at 23-weeks gestation in a routine ultrasound scan. With that, Arlo’s journey at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) started two weeks later at 25-weeks gestation.
Parents Bronte and Romi were told of all the risks and complications and although filled with feelings of worry, they were confident their son was going to be in good hands.
Following Arlo’s birth at his first cardiology appointment, Bronte and Romi were advised that he would have to be admitted. Blue in colour and just six-days-old, Arlo was taken to the dedicated cardiac ward Koala and placed on oxygen and a nasal gastric tube. Four days later, Arlo was rushed away into his first emergency surgery.
Nothing could ever prepare a parent to see their child on a ventilator after open heart surgery. Unfortunately, Arlo suffered numerous complications and serious infections resulting in multiple revision surgeries—in the first five months of his life, Arlo had six open heart surgeries.
Aru was born a healthy baby however, at six months of age her breathing was faster than normal. The GP suspected it could be pneumonia and Aru came to The Royal Children’s Hospital for a check-up. An initial chest X-Ray turned into all sorts of tests through the night and the next day, Aru’s parents received heartbreaking news—due to a virus attacking her heart, Aru was in end stage heart failure.
Aru was diagnosed with viral myocarditis and it resulted in dilated cardiomyopathy. Her little heart was so dilated that it couldn’t pump enough blood. Aru needed a heart transplant and had to be connected to a machine to support her heart while they waited for a donor. It took seven months before Aru received a new heart.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. Following the transplant, Aru needed endless physiotherapist, speech pathologist and occupational therapist appointments to get back on her feet.
In 2019, the family received more bad news. Due to Aru’s viral infection and anti-rejection medications, she was diagnosed with PTLD (a precancerous condition). For eight months, Aru received treatment on the cancer ward at the RCH. In 2020, Aru was finished with treatment and was officially in remission.