Balgownie triplet takes the hard knocks

Thirteen operations in 13 years is a tough gig for any footy-loving 13-year-old.

So Cody Farrar could be forgiven for thinking "why me?".

But the Balgownie triplet never complains, not even yesterday when surgeons inserted screws to keep his hips in place.

While Cody puts on a brave face, his mum Kelly knows the medical setbacks since birth are taking their toll.

"He is a friendly, caring boy with a great nature and a very funny personality," Ms Farrar said yesterday, while waiting for her son in surgery.

"When he's happy he sings, but he's just getting so down."

Cody was Ms Farrar's third son born at 32 weeks, behind Andrew and Brandon.

He spent an extra week in intensive care and then, at four months, had the first of many operations for a cleft lip and palate.

"At 10 months old he had his palate repaired and he's had another four more operations over the years for his cleft lip and palate," Ms Farrar said, explaining that one procedure involved a bone graft from his hip being inserted into his gum.

Once Cody hit preschool he had a new, frightening diagnosis.

"They'd ring me every day to come and pick Cody up because he was really 'chesty'. I'd take him to the doctors and they'd say he was fine," Ms Farrar said.

"Eventually we found out his aorta was on the other side to everybody else's. That was a bit different."

Four-hour heart surgery followed, another stint in intensive care, and Cody made a full recovery, ready to get back onto the footy field and follow in the footsteps of his West Tigers' idols Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall. But with adolescence came more problems.

"In July this year he struggled with a sore hip. It took me three weeks to get to the bottom of it, but bone scans showed his hip had slipped off his femur," Ms Farrar said.

"So it was straight up to emergency and an operation two days later. Then it was recovery, more time off school, and again Cody couldn't even kick his footy around.

"Only in the last four weeks he's been getting back on track, but then more pain. He had to have his right hip done too. Two big screws in either side now holding it all together."

As Cody recuperates, again, his mum wants him to know she is proud.

"He just seems to be really unlucky but he never complains. Now he can't play any contact sport for a few years and that's getting him down. I'm trying let him know I'm proud of how brave he's always been."

Ms Farrar is hoping for good times ahead.

"He just asked me for a season pass next year to see all the Tigers games," she said.

"And he loves to fish and wants to go out on a charter boat.

"At least that doesn't involve tackling!" she joked.

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