Far South Coast Rallies for Research

The season-ending presentation nights are one of the key social events on any Surf Life Saving club’s calendar, and one Far South Coast family had an extra reason to celebrate as they reflect on a special season for them and their daughter who has been battling ongoing health issues.

Twelve-year-old Darcy Coppin of Moruya SLSC was born with Hydrocephalus, a condition that affects 1 in 500 births and is the leading cause of children requiring neurosurgery. Hydrocephalus in medical terms is the build-up of spinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain, which causes swelling and if untreated is life-threatening.

Darcy’s mother Jane is a passionate member of the lifesaving fraternity, having been involved with Moruya SLSC for as long as she can remember. Her father is a life member of the club, her husband has been involved since his teens, and her three children are all passionate Nippers.

Darcy’s health issues meant that the family was forced to scale back their commitments over the last few years, but now Jane has been able to renew her involvement with the club as an age manager and active patrolling member, while also advocating for better community awareness of Hydrocephalus.

Darcy’s health has improved to the extent where she has been able to compete at local carnivals for the last two seasons, and there was no prouder mum on the beach on race days.

“It’s very difficult to put into words just what it means to see her back competing. She’s just so inspiring, and to see her swim in the surf just a year after brain surgery was very moving. She has been through so much and just remains an inspiration to not only myself, but also her younger brother and sister,” Mrs Coppin said.

“She absolutely loves the water, and is so happy being able to do Nippers again. We are fortunate that her health is going well at the moment, but the reality is that can change at any time and that is why I’m so passionate about making people aware of this condition.”

The driving force behind her desire to make people aware of Hydrocephalus is the fact there is no registry for shunts in Australia. The insertion of a shunt into the skull to help drain excess fluid has been the conventional treatment since the 1960s, but unfortunately it has the highest failure rate of any medical implant in use.

“My aim is to highlight to the Government that people living with Hydrocephalus need change. The creation of a registry is vital as it will have a real impact on people’s lives. It will give medical practitioners the best information about how they can help patients.

"A shunt could last for two years or it could last for a decade before having to be replaced, it is really that variable at this point in time,” she said.

The Far South Coast Surf Life Saving community is helping to raise funds and awareness of Hydrocephalus and their support is much appreciated by the entire Coppin family.

“Surf Life Saving really is an extended family. The other clubs and the Far South Coast Branch have been incredibly supportive. They have gone above and beyond and I’ve been truly impressed by them,” said Mrs Coppin.

“Narooma surf club recently raised $600 at their presentation night for the cause and for a small club, that’s an incredible effort. I think that is what is beautiful about the Surf Life Saving family - when we’re on the beach it’s competitive and there is club rivalry but off it they’re some of the most generous, most community-oriented people you could ever wish to meet.”

To find out more about Hydrocephalus, Jane Coppin has set-up a Facebook page A Dollar For Darcy to help fund a national registry.

Above: Darcy Coppin smiles for the camera. Photograph courtesy of Jane Coppin.

Mon 25 May 2015