LONGFORD Primary School student Joe Hall had his wish to go on a cruise granted, when Make-A-Wish Gippsland Branch visited assembly with a special surprise.
The Halls will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy quality time as a family on a five-day Carnival Cruise, and take their minds off Joe's extensive medical hardships.
The 10-year-old was born with half a heart, enduring three open heart surgeries, the first of which lasted 13 hours when Joe was only a day old.
Shortly after his final heart surgery at age four, Joe developed a lung condition known as plastic bronchitis, where lymph fluid builds up, blocks his airways and forms rubbery casts, causing him severe respiratory issues.
Joe underwent a procedure to reverse his condition earlier this year, and was cast-free for eight and a half months, but unfortunately last month the casts returned.
Joe’s mother Gayle said the family had spent many nights in Sale Hospital emergency room, and they kept oxygen at home to help him out when the casts worsened.
“There’s less than 200 people around the world with this condition, and maybe only ten in Australia,” Gayle said.
Joe’s father Tony Hall said that Joe didn’t let his condition get him down, and not only did Joe love riding his motorbike around the farm, he had loved playing soccer this year.
“He’s had a tough trot, but he’s full of beans,” Tony said.
“Last year was his first year he played footy after the procedure, because he could actually run around without getting puffed.
“He’s just so tough with it all, nothing phases him, it worries me and his mum more than it worries him. We just can’t stop him.”
Make-A-Wish Gippsland branch’s Sharon Rodgers said the Make-A-Wish team had been getting to know the Hall family since Joe came in for his initial interview.
“He’s a beautiful boy,” Ms Rodgers beamed.
“It’s awesome, it’s just something for the family to take their minds off what’s been going on in their lives for the past few years.”
Joe and his family will fly to Sydney, the first time Joe has ever travelled by plane, before the cruise embarks on a trip around Tasmania, as his condition prevents him from leaving Australian waters.
“He’s really looking forward to the waterslides, that’s all he wants to do. It’s going to be hard to get him out of the pool,” Tony laughed.
Joe was chuffed at the prospect of ‘all-you-can-eat’ 24-hour pizza and ice cream, a major drawcard for his wish.
“I’ve been seeing it on the ads, and I wanted to go on it, so mum decided to organise it for my Make-A-Wish,” Joe said.
Joe said he wanted to thank his parents.
“I’m just really happy they help me,” Joe smiled.