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Natalie’s Freedom

Natalie is 23 years old and is a happy young woman with a cheeky sense of humour who loves music, singing and footie. Her favourite footie team is the Sharks.

Natalie has a rare progressive neurological disorder. As a result, she has been in hospital for two and a half years. She gets all her food and medicines through a central line. Initially this meant she had two medication pumps attached to her powered wheelchair by a customised bracket.

Her medical requirements increased to the point where she needed three additional pumps – one regular pump and two larger, heavier pumps. Natalie’s Occupational Therapist contacted TAD to see if anything could be done to enable Natalie to travel independently away from hospital with all five pumps attached to her wheelchair.

TAD’s therapists, engineer and volunteers got together to discuss solutions.  They needed to find a way to fix the extra pumps to the chair. This meant taking into account the wheelchair’s stability, Natalie’s reliance on constant access to the pumps, and the practicalities of transferring her in and out of her wheelchair with all the equipment, as well as access to her van for transport.

The TAD volunteer assigned to the job is a former engineer with skills in welding, toolmaking and fitting. After visiting Natalie in hospital and assessing her chair he came up with a solution. He created a fixture that supported all five pumps to the back of Natalie’s chair. This involved creating brackets which held a longer central pole, two extra upright tubes on either side of Natalie’s headrest, and custom made attachments for IV fluids.

This meant that Natalie was able to leave hospital and see the Sharks play for the first time in over two years. TV presenter Glenn Wheeler organised for Natalie to visit the stadium and meet the players.

Natalie and her family were delighted. For mum Lyn, it was so special, and she is extremely appreciative of the amazing work done to achieve Natalie’s dream.

“I can’t think of anyone else who would be able to do this. Our volunteer has been amazing. A skilled, talented man with a big heart and endless patience,” says Lyn.

“The most important thing is Natalie’s independence. Before TAD got involved, we had to walk beside her and push the IV pole that held her pumps. Now that they are attached to the chair, she is in control and independent and that means everything.”

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TAD acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to elders past, present and emerging.