Jarnii Kakoschke was one of 503 competitors who tackled the 5km Sweat vs Steam Fun Run on Sunday.By Luke McManus
Jarnii Kakoschke’s inspiring story is one of many emerging from the weekend’s Sweat vs Steam Fun Run.
The Echuca Primary School student was one of 503 competitors who tackled the 5km race on Sunday morning, with her proud parents, Tricia and Barry, supporting her all the way to the end.
Jarnii completed the race in under 38 minutes, without a worry in the world.
‘‘It wasn’t too hard,’’ she said after the race.
‘‘I had lots of practice running laps around the oval at school and I got a ribbon saying ‘well done’ on it.’’
But it is what is under the surface that makes Jarnii’s race even more special.
Just 48 hours after crossing the finish line, the brave little eight-year-old underwent heart surgery at the Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.
Earlier this year, Jarnii was diagnosed with Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a congenital heart disorder which prevents a specific fetal blood vessel (ductus) in the heart from closing, which normally occurs after birth.
If left untreated, the disorder can cause congestive heart failure, due to an unwelcome leakage of fluid and blood into the patient’s lungs.
‘‘We were unsure of the correct name for it for so long,’’ Tricia said.
‘‘Everyone described it in different ways. It’s really high tech and a lot of what’s explained goes over our heads.
‘‘It’s good to finally know what it is exactly,’’ Barry added.
‘‘It will be easier now to explain to family and friends.’’
Showing no symptoms for most of her life, Jarnii began suffering from chest pains and a ‘‘sore heart’’ about 18 months ago.
Regular visits to the doctor kept her condition in check, until March, when Jarnii collapsed at her Fehring Lane home while preparing for another day at school.
It was when Jarnii started convulsing that Tricia and Barry knew something was seriously wrong with their little girl.
‘‘We were terrified,’’ Barry said.
‘‘We didn’t know what was going on.’’
A brief visit to Echuca hospital turned into a three-hour ride in an ambulance to Melbourne, where Jarnii was put through a series of tests in the hope of finding the cause.
Yesterday’s two-hour operation, involving the insertion of a heart catheter and a spring coil device, hopefully ends what has been a seven-month ordeal for Jarnii and her family.
‘‘She has been extremely brave,’’ Tricia said.
‘‘It’s been pretty full on with the amount of blood tests, echocardiograms, and ECGs (electrocardiogram) Jarnii went through on Monday.
‘‘We were at the hospital since 7am (yesterday), so it was a pretty stressful morning for us.’’
No such worry for Jarnii however, who requested a joy ride in a wheelchair, pushed by her six-year-old brother Tykie, during the doctor’s briefing prior to her operation.
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