MYSTERY ILLNESS STRIKES YOUNG SURFER
By HELEN JACK
KAREN LOWE stopped mid-sentence, waiting for her tears to clear.
She was describing the moment she realised her son Ben, 16, was about to stop breathing.
On Monday afternoon Ben, a pro-junior surfer from Lennox Head, began to complain of a headache.
Minutes later his legs went numb and then his left arm. Karen, her partner, Craig Morrison, Ben, and little brother, Jamie, were returning to their Lennox Head home from a day out in Lismore when Ben fell ill.
They were pulling into their driveway when Ben said he felt like he was having a heart attack.
??We carried him into the hallway and laid him on the floor,?? Karen said. ??It was then he began gasping for air. His eyes rolled back in his head.
??I was preparing to do CPR when the ambos arrived. ??They were so quick.??
Ambulance officers gave Ben oxygen then took him to Ballina Hospital, before transferring him to Lismore Base Hospital.
At first, Ben??s family feared he may have contracted meningitis or meningococcal disease, but tests proved he was clear of both.
Karen said doctors now think Ben may have Ross?s River Fever or Barmah Forest Virus, both mosquito-borne viruses.
??Today he is so much better; he has his eyes open,?? said?s Karen.
??His left knee is swollen with arthritic pain and his fingers and wrists are also paining. He was up using a walking frame. ??He looked like a little old man and he is only 16.??
As a sponsored surfer competing in the pro-junior circuit with a world ranking of 154, Ben??s family just want him well and back out in the surf.
But the family is no stranger to Ross River, with Jamie also suspected of having the virus.
Karen said Jamie will travel to Westmead Hospital in Sydney soon to undergo further tests.
??He is also suffering arthritic pain in his joints, and has for the past four months,?? she said.
??I can??t fault any of the help we have received, everyone has been fantastic.??
Karen said all they wanted was to have Ben healthy and on his feet again so he could achieve his goal of being in the top 100 pro-junior surfers in the world.