15/11/2016

Llew O’Brien meets brave young boy

The bravery of a young Gympie boy with arthritis has won him another friend and supporter – the Federal Member for Wide Bay, Llew O’Brien.

Nine-year-old Nathan has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis or JIA, which is a very painful form of arthritis. However, he refuses to let the disease rule his life and does his best to make the most of every day, despite being frequently in terrible pain.

Mr O’Brien read about Nathan and his battle with arthritis because the young Gympie boy is the face of Arthritis Queensland’s Christmas Appeal this year.

“When I found out what he goes through on an almost daily basis I wanted to meet him and his mother Kathleen to gain a better understanding of the condition,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This young man has to put up with pain every day that few of us can imagine, but when you ask him what he would wish for if he could have a wish granted, he talks about other people, not himself.

“Nathan’s wish is that everyone with his type of arthritis gets well soon and that no one has it, and no one else gets it.

“That is very brave and incredible maturity and selflessness from someone so young.”

Mr O’Brien said many people did not realise that arthritis could strike anyone, at any time, not just the elderly.

“It is a myth that arthritis is an ‘old person’s disease’,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I understand from Arthritis Queensland that of the 3.85 million Australians who suffer a form of arthritis over 2.4 million are of working age or younger, including as many as 6000 children under the age of 16.

“While some children may grow out of JIA, many of them will have arthritis for the rest of their lives. Sadly, Nathan is one of them.”

During his meeting with Nathan, Mr O’Brien asked him about what he wanted to do when he grew up. He also asked him if he had a wish for himself, as well as his wish that other children shouldn’t have to suffer JIA.

“Nathan told me he really enjoys playing on his Nintendo DS 3DXL computer game, and wants to be a scientist or an astronaut or a race car driver.

“But like many young boys high on his list of personal wishes right now is a ride in a police car with the siren on and lights flashing.

“I’m going to see what I can do to make his wish for a ride in a police car come true.”

During their meeting Mr O’Brien confirmed he would make a personal donation to Arthritis Queensland’s Christmas Appeal.

How you can help Nathan and other children like him:

If you would like to make a donation and help Nathan and other children like him with arthritis, please visit www.arthritis.org.au. All money raised will be used to provide supportive devices to improve their quality of life. General donations to Arthritis Queensland also go to research into finding a cure for arthritis.