Meet Gorgeous George

When you look at George what do you see?

Like many who come to StGiles for their expertise in children’s disability services, George’s challenges aren’t immediately visible.

George, who turns three in October, was born with a port wine birthmark on his face which has been lightened by laser.

However, he lives with a duplicate birthmark on his brain which causes seizures that affect the right side of his body – known as Sturge-Weber Syndrome.

Gorgeous George is the youngest of Jessica Bryant and Mark Hogarth’s four children – the much loved `baby’ of the family.

He was five months old when the complications of his birthmark manifested.

Jessica had dropped her older children at school in Launceston and was headed home when she noticed George was unusually unsettled.

“George was really upset, frowning and just wouldn’t feed. I gave him some paracetamol and settled him into his cot,’’ she said.

A short while later, Jessica went back to his little room and found him in his cot having a seizure that started with his tiny right hand and went up his right arm and through his right leg and into his face.

Jessica remembers feeling numb with fear when she dialled 000 and then carried George outside, sat on the footpath desperately trying to feed or do anything that would stop the seizure and waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

A week at the Launceston General Hospital and a range of drugs weren’t stopping George’s seizures – the longest lasted 40 minutes.

The hospital’s neurology team decided to have him transported to the Royal Hobart and the State’s dedicated paediatric intensive care unit.

After hospital, stabilised, George came to StGiles children’s disability service in Launceston where he benefitted from the expertise of the physiotherapy team.

Jessica remembered her relief when senior physiotherapist Keryn Parkes told her “we’ll have him sorted and he’ll be ready for school’’.

During these past two years the StGiles therapy team has worked hard with George to retrain his brain and get the right-hand side of his body working again.

His therapy is cleverly targeted exercises, tasks and games that help his brain learn new ways to make his body work.

And guess what? The efforts have brought reward. Keryn (now retired), Tracy Redman and Vanessa Boon (pictured) have guided George and today he is very definitely an active toddler.

That’s why, last week, Jessica who works as residential property consultant at Launceston firm Harrison and Humphreys came into StGiles with a cheque for $2000.

The donation, she said, should be applied to benefit other children from families who aren’t as fortunate as her own.

Jessica urged other Launceston businesses to find a way for staff to donate to StGiles.

“We know the NDIS has made it harder for StGiles teams to find the dollars for the extra work some children require,’’ she said.

“My donation is a proportion of my commission from every property I sell. It adds up. But even $5 or $10 a week can make a massive difference,’’ she said.

Donations to StGiles can be made via this link.