Damin Ching (second from left) has a rare condition which his parents, Brandon Ching and Mikayla McDonald, along with his four-year-old sister, Katelyn Ching, are hoping to alleviate with a life changing operation. Photo: Kate Russell.

A life changing chance for Damin


Six-year-old Damin Ching can’t ride a bike, kick a ball around or play tag with his friends without getting exhausted.

But a $120,000 “life changing” operation in the United States could change all that.

Damin has right side hemiplegia, a type of cerebral palsy which causes him to have extremely high muscle tone and lack of control in the affected side of his body.

But a rare operation called selective dorsal rhizotomy, which involves cutting the nerve fibres in the spine that the brain uses to stiffen the limbs, could give the Nayland Primary School pupil a new lease on life.

“Biking, swimming, running – he’ll be able to do all of that without help,” says his mother Mikayla McDonald.

“He still gets around but it’s just a lot harder for him. He can’t keep up with his peers at school or play soccer and monkey bars because he can’t get that whole coordination.”

The operation is not funded in New Zealand and the Stoke family is trying to raise the full amount to send Damin to St Louis Children’s Hospital in July 2018.

Mikayla says it wasn’t until Damin was around six months old that she and her partner Brandon Ching noticed that something “wasn’t quite right.”

“He was a normal full-term baby and was doing all the things he was supposed to,” she says.

“But we noticed he wasn’t using the right side of his body, so we asked the GP and they said that it was normal, so we carried on.”

But when Damin was hospitalized with bronchiolitis at nine months old, a paediatrician picked up on it and diagnosed him with the condition.

From then on it has been constant brain scans, physio and hydrotherapy, surgeries and numerous rounds of botox injections to relieve the tightness in his leg.

“He’s always sore in his leg. It’s pretty much like going to the gym and afterwards they feel really tight and sore,” says Brandon.

“Some days he walks to school, but he’s too tired to walk home and Mikayla has to piggy back him.”

The family have already managed to get a few local businesses behind them, as well as setting up a Givealittle page to raise the $120,000.

“Nelson is such a great place and we’ve already had so many offers of help,” says Mikayla.
“It’s quite gobsmacking realising what a great community we live in, all banding together just to help us.”

To donate, visit givealittle.co.nz or email [email protected]