Matt Nelson and his family raised more than $30,000 for HeartKids in loving memory of their late wife and mother, Tina.By Monique Freer
Matt Nelson smiles as he opens his shirt to reveal the tattoo of his wife’s name across his heart.
While he admitted he was never one to get a tattoo, he said it was a cathartic experience to honour the memory of Tina, who died suddenly in March from a heart condition.
But even more therapeutic was Mr Nelson and his family’s mission for Mrs Nelson’s death to leave a legacy, which saw them raise more than $30
‘‘It’s been really good for my soul and it’s given me something,’’ Mr Nelson said.
‘‘It’s something you never, ever, ever sort of get over or whatever but it’s more just from putting money into an organisation that helps so many different families for a condition that has affected us, makes me feel that I can get something out of something that’s so tragic and hard to live with each day.
‘‘Seeing that makes me feel really good.’’
HeartKids is a registered heart charity that provides support to families of children with heart disease, either congenital or acquired. It also provides funding for research to assist cardiologists and researchers to reduce the incidence of childhood heart disease and current mortality rates.
Mrs Nelson suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes the muscle of the heart to become thickened without any obvious cause.
She was diagnosed with the disease when she gave birth to her son Hamish in 2003, although it was only ever classified as mild.
Mrs Nelson became a passionate advocate for HeartKids after both her sons were diagnosed with the same heart condition following the birth of her second son Claude in 2007.
‘‘If you ever get the chance, please support HeartKids, even if it’s by learning more about what they do,’’ Mrs Nelson wrote on her Facebook wall on July 21, 2012.
‘‘They are a wonderful organisation helping and supporting thousands of families on the rollercoaster ride that is childhood heart disease.’’
The ride has certainly been a rollercoaster for the Nelsons, with the family being dealt another blow in June when Claude suffered a seizure while visiting family in Gilgandra.
After being airlifted to hospital it was recommended that a defibrillator be inserted into his chest, and he underwent surgery within a week.
‘‘Maybe things do happen for a reason, because he would have had to get a defibrillator at some stage, and the experience at Westmead (Hospital) was good to see the support network that HeartKids do provide as well,’’ Mr Nelson said.
‘‘Whether we need their support in the future or not I don’t know, but I think the thing that is comforting is that if we do need their support .
‘‘For them to have someone employed that can be that support, and talk you through the procedure and put you in touch with other families, that’s just gold because it gives you that comfort about what to expect.
‘‘If we ever need their services in the future we know we’re going to get good advice.’’
Mr Nelson, Hamish and Claude presented a cheque for $22
Mr Nelson’s hometown of Gilgandra raised $11
About $1700 was donated at Mrs Nelson’s funeral, and individual donations made directly to HeartKids in her name saw the total amount raised jump above $30
‘‘I thought with the movie night if we raised a couple of thousand dollars we would have done exceptionally well, so for that to be more like $30
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