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Macquarie Hills youngster lends powers to Supertee campaign

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What brings Ali Gosper to tears most about watching her son Luca undergo regular ultrasounds is not the patience required to keep a three-year-old occupied in a waiting room, or the days of missed childcare, or even the juggling of doctor’s appointments with his sibling’s school pick-up. 

What hurts her the most is that it has become such a normal part of life. 

And, although Luca is like any other three-year-old who thinks they’re a superhero, the busy boy from Macquarie Hills understands terms like MRIs, ultrasounds, antibiotics, and lymph nodes more than most adults. 

Since he was two-weeks old he has been experiencing firsthand all-things hospital after a lump under his arm was diagnosed as lymphatic malformation. 

“It breaks my heart every single time we walk into an ultrasound,” Ali says. 

“He lays down on the bed and he puts his arm up. He knows exactly what he’s got to do, and I don’t feel like that’s ok for a kid.  

“A kid shouldn’t know what to do for an ultrasound, or a blood test, or an MRI. 

“A three-year-old shouldn’t have to know that.” 

Luca Nelson has been a fan of superheros since he spoke his first words.

Luca was diagnosed with lymphatic malformation before he’d had the chance to celebrate his first birthday. 

His revolving door experience with hospitals began after Ali discovered an unusual lump under his arm that had grown to the size of a tennis ball by the time he was six months old. 

The rare formation in his armpit, later also discovered in his chest, while not considered life threatening, can put pressure on nearby body parts, in Luca’s case – the lungs.  

“He’s been having multiple MRIs and ultrasounds since then,” says Ali. 

“When we go for ultrasounds and appointments because not very many people have seen this, he could have a dozen people in the room for an ultrasound. 

“Then I would get him dressed and we could have another four people come in sit through his ultrasound so that people could see the malformation and what it looks like on an ultrasound because it’s rare. 

“I’m all for learning about these conditions, but I did wonder what he felt about his privacy.” 

Luca wears his supertee to all of his medical appointments, ensuring his super powers can shine through.

After his second surgery, he was given a medical garment that Ali describes as a “game-changer”. 

A fan of Spiderman “since anyone in the family can remember”, Luca now wears what is called a Supertee to each medical appointment, allowing him to remain clothed during examinations, and visually reminding him and others of his “superpowers”. 

Spidey was actually one of his very first words,” Ali recalls. 

“I don’t know whether it’s just because Luca is a boy that’s obsessed with superheroes, but he’s right into the Supertees. 

“It gives him the chance to role play I guess. 

“We can use it as parents as well as the doctors and nurses, to take his mind off things and tell him how brave he is, just like superheroes with special powers. “ 

The Supertee is an updated version of the traditional hospital gown designed especially for children. 

It provides parents and hospital staff with an easier way to change a child’s garments while accessing and bypassing medical lines. 

The same group has also released ‘About Me’ posters are a resource for medical staff to learn some ‘conversation-starters’ to help interact with patients.

“It might have things like whether I have a dog, how many siblings, is Spiderman better than Superman, things he’s interested in or are close to him,” says Ali.

It can also be a valuable resource for tired parents, sparing the small-talk after late hospital stays.

“It’s a list of things you could talk to him about,” she said.

“It takes his mind off things so that he’ll let you take his blood pressure or put the an oxygen clip on, or check his blood pressure.

“When he was a little bit younger, Luca would always try and kick the crocodile clip off, but now the Supertee and the poster are a distraction. 

“They completely change your hospital stay.”

Ali is now passionate about spreading the word on Supertees.

Next month she’ll join thousands of fellow Supertee supporters hosting a Tea4Tees fundraiser to raise much needed funds for the unique children’s charity.

The group has a goal of donating 16,000 Supertee kits to sick children in hospitals across Australia by the end of 2024.

“I honestly can’t tell you how much this has changed Luca’s hospital visits,” says Ali.

“It brings a smile to his face every time.”

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