Joleen Pirini with baby son Noah Pirini-Stowers, who has
just one vein to his heart working. Photo NZ Herald
Joleen Pirini is desperate to get her baby son Noah
Pirini-Stowers home to New Zealand, after doctors in Australia
said he could die any day.
The tot was born prematurely with dextrocardia where the
heart is on the wrong side of the body.
But Miss Pirini did not know about the extent of the rare
condition when she moved her four boys to Australia in
December in search of a better life.
Now her brother has set up a fund to help get Noah home.
When Noah was born in Auckland, doctors said his heart was
inflamed but the condition's severity, including lung
defects, was not realised.
Doctors continued to diagnose bronchiolitis until the family,
including older boys Tyler, 13, Vinnie, 11, and Cadence, 2,
emigrated to Australia.
"Two weeks after we got here Noah coughed up blood," Miss
The solo mother rushed her son to hospital where specialists
identified damaged valves leading from Noah's lungs to his
Noah had surgery at Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane in
January to fix the valves and widen the pulmonary veins in
his lungs to let more oxygen through.
The prognosis was that he would likely need more surgery as
he aged to keep the narrowed veins open.
Then two weeks ago, on Noah's first birthday, Miss Pirini was
blindsided by the news that all but one of the veins had
closed and there was nothing more doctors could do.
"He's only got one vein left working and they've said it's
just a matter of time until that closes and that will shut
down his heart," Miss Pirini said.
"There's no other surgery they can do. I asked about lung
transplant but Noah will need both heart and lung transplants
and he wouldn't survive the surgery."
Noah was sent home with weeks to live.
"I just cried. You just look at him and I think 'Well, what
if tomorrow's the end?'.
"So I just want to get him home and spend every minute with
Noah was a "fighter". He needed oxygen and had not learned to
crawl or sit yet on his own, but he showed no other signs of
his illness, she said.
Miss Pirini, a former New Zealand Post worker who has not
been able to work since arriving in Australia because of the
amount of time Noah has been in hospital, said she was
unaware her brother had set up the fundraiser with
Givealittle until she began getting messages of support.
"My biggest concern is just getting him back on to New
Zealand soil because I'm a single mum and if anything was to
happen here, there's no way I'd be able to get him home."
Miss Pirini has managed to survive on family tax credits and
by staying with aunts but she plans to move home permanently
and faces start-up costs including a rental home, a car to
get Noah to Starship hospital, furniture and schooling
So far, $3,450 had been raised and Miss Pirini, who's from
the Hokianga in Northland, hoped to fly the family home on
her 35th birthday on Monday.
She said that when the end came she planned to take Noah back
to Pawarenga where she grew up.
• A rare congenital condition where the heart is on the right
side of the chest instead of left.
• In some cases it is linked to heart and organ problems.
• Dextrocardia that affects heart function can cause
breathing problems and fatigue in children.
• Treatment includes surgery and long-term antibiotics to
fight respiratory illness.