Little battler takes turn in driver's seat

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Boy who has overcome operations meets motor-racing idol as part of hospital appeal

Racing driver Greg Murphy helps Wiremu Le Comte open present in his East Tamaki workshop. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Racing driver Greg Murphy helps Wiremu Le Comte open present in his East Tamaki workshop. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Motor-racing legend Greg Murphy is usually the man behind the wheel of his prized racing cars.

But for once, he let another little champ sit in the driver's seat.

Wiremu Le Comte got to meet Murphy as part of the Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal, which is trying to raise funds to help buy medical equipment for 10 children's hospital wards around the country.

"You can get into the car today, champ," Murphy told the 3-year-old.

It was a dream come true for the youngster, who is fascinated by cars and engines.

Wiremu, whose family are from Kawerau, was born with clubfoot and had to have seven operations.

He is a regular at Tauranga Hospital, where his condition is regularly monitored using a specialist system purchased by the hospital with funds from a previous Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal.

Clinical nurse manager Lynnece Dowle-Back said the technology helped medical staff and young patients like Wiremu.

"Without that sort of technology, we'd have to do things manually; checking his blood pressure and things," she said.

"For a child, having this [technology] means they can rest and be undisturbed while we still get to do our work and see how they're doing via a screen."

Last year's appeal raised $1.22 million, which helped to buy items including ultrasound machines, ventilators, incubators, birthing beds, toddler cots and blood-pressure monitors.

Wiremu's mother, Charlie Tangira, said seeing her son running around freely was a blessing, given what had been a difficult pregnancy.

"I was told in the early stages that he would have clubfoot. I was actually pregnant with twins, but [one] died later on in the pregnancy. It was hard, and so Wiremu is a blessing."

Ms Tangira said her eldest child had been a fighter and had never been fazed about having to be in and out of hospital.

Asked about his interest in cars, she said: "Wiremu loves cars. You can't leave your keys in the ignition because he'll try and start it up."

The appeal runs until October 31.


For more info or to donate visit countdown.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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