After years of practice, Rowan fulfilled his dream of racing in a motocross event in November 2020. What began as one of the family’s most memorable days quickly became their worst, when the then seven year- old was thrown 15m through trees during practice.
He was intubated and ventilated at the scene of the accident, and quickly transferred to Queensland Children’s Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery – a right decompressive craniectomy, which is brain surgery that removes a portion of the skull to stop the brain bleed and allow for swelling. He was then placed into an induced coma.
Doctors were unsure whether Rowan would survive or wake up from the coma, and if he did, whether he would walk or talk again. He endured a long battle to regain some of his physical strength, including multiple brain and skull surgeries. He had a stroke within the occipital lobe of his brain during his time in intensive care due to the pressure in his skull, which caused him to completely lose his eyesight. He now walks with a cane due to his full blindness.
He has also undergone multiple CT and MRI scans, and further brain surgeries. These included operations to clean a major staph infection and to fit a surface drain, to put in an External Ventricular Drain (EVD), and another to insert a titanium skull plate to replace his damaged skull bone. He spent more than four months as an inpatient in the hospital, including Christmas Day.
Rowan’s progress continues to amaze everyone that works with him as he reaches goals and milestones regularly. Rowan’s long-term goal is to become an Australian Paralympian. His parents cite him as always happy and positive, often saying “fingers crossed I get my eyesight back”, and always with a big smile on his face.
Our supporters have funded a high-density (HD) electroencephalography (EEG) machine at the Children’s Centre for Health Research. This piece of equipment is central to a research study that is monitoring brain waves in children affected by stroke and brain injury, led by Children’s Health Queensland’s Michaela Waak, and The University of Queensland’s Karen Barlow. The HD EEG machine Helps kids like Rowan have a more pleasant treatment experience, allowing them to be awake, giving clinicians a more comprehensive understanding of their brain patterns during recovery.