Little Jasper’s a little fighter
WHEN Jasper Mills was born, doctors told his parents, Ocean Shores couple Nadine Schafer and Anthony Mills, they would be lucky to make it out of the hospital with him alive.
The complications had begun before he was born.
At 26 weeks, Jasper's twin brother Julian lost connection with the placenta the two boys were sharing, and died.
In an attempt to save his unborn brother, Jasper transfused his own blood into Julian, significantly reducing the amount of oxygen reaching his own brain.
The result was that Jasper was born with both cerebral palsy and microcephaly, conditions that affect a person's ability to move and their brain development.
But two years later, young Jasper is still going strong.
"He's just proven them all wrong," Ms Schafer said. "He's not on any medication, he eats by himself.
"I've never given up hope, and never will."
Jasper's quality of life took a monumental leap in October when the family went to the NAPA (Neurological And Physical Ability) centre in Los Angeles for three weeks of intensive therapy.
Each day involved five hours of physical therapy aimed at increasing Jasper's range of movement, reshaping his movement pattern and improving his balance and posture.
One of the therapies involved a NeuroSuit, which used elastic bands to mimic muscles, applying pressure and sending feedback to the brain which helped to create new and improved patterns of movement.
"Beforehand he was basically stiff as a board and in quite a lot of pain because of the spasticity," she said.
"But he's just improved so much; he's an absolute changed boy. It means the world to us and it means the world to Jasper.''
Ms Schafer said it was important to inform those in similar situations of successful treatments.
Given the proven benefits of the treatment, Nadine and Anthony were quick to sign Jasper up to the new Gold Coast-based NAPA centre for another intensive session.
But treatment doesn't come cheap.
For three weeks of intensive therapy, Nadine and Anthony said they would have to raise $9700.
After winning the Sunsuper Dreams competition, just $2000 remains to be raised. Ms Schafer said any donations would be greatly appreciated.
Anyone wanting to donate to Jasper's cause can make a tax-deductible donation to his charity account, called Jasper's Journey. Commonwealth Bank, BSB: 062665, Account: 10158877