By TOM HUNT
Having been given a glimmer of hope, seriously ill Nelson (NZ) teenager Cody Walsh has had another "hideous" blow dealt to him, after burglars broke into his house and stole the few forms of entertainment available to him.
"It's the most hideous, cruellest thing they could have done to my son," were just some of the distraught words of Cody's mother, Natalie Cozens, who returned from a medical trip to Auckland to discover the break-in.
Last September, Cody, 17, almost died when a previously undetected birth abnormality, where the bowel sits incorrectly in the body, caused his gut to strangle and necessitated the immediate removal of most of his upper and lower intestines.
Since then, Cody has been fed a glucose solution directly into his bloodstream via a major artery but frequent line infections, some bringing him to near-death, mean he is down to the final useable artery.
His only hope of ever eating normally again is receiving a bowel and liver transplant in Toronto, Canada, which has a price tag expected to near $1 million, and a one-in-four survival rate.
In December, Jason Peter Rochford, 22, was convicted of stealing donation tins from around Nelson, including some for Cody's operation.
Despite it all, Cody has remained upbeat, at one point telling the Nelson Mail: "There's no point moaning about it, you know. That isn't going to help."
Family friend Nyle Sunderland said Cody's mood skyrocketed during a trip to see medical specialists in Auckland over a week ago.
Doctors not only managed to correct the mixture of the glucose solution, to reduce a weight loss problem, but started planning ground-breaking surgery where a major artery was joined to a minor vein, through which the glucose solution would be fed.
It reduced chances of infection and left the one remaining major artery intact and free for surgery, which they say is eventually unavoidable.
The procedure, a New Zealand first, could buy him up to a decade before the transplant was needed, by which time the transplant procedure's survival rates would hopefully have increased, Ms Sunderland said.
"He came back from Auckland with great hope a great lease of life."
Cody had planned to start studying to become a chef, even if he would only be able to taste food and not eat it, she said.
But when Cody and his mother got home, they found their house had been burgled.
The only items stolen belonged to Cody and included PlayStations, games and a brand new external hard-drive that he had saved for.
"Of all the things to steal from Cody that was his life. That was all he could do.
"The money was bad enough but that's what he lived for."
A blog has been set up, Cody Walsh, to help raise funds and awareness of Cody's plight.
Donations can also be made to the Cody Walsh Transplant Fund at any Westpac branch, or in collection tins at bars and cafes in Nelson.
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