The world has opened up for young Dane

Dane Aronsten and twin sister Remi meet the Wiggles on Wednesday.
Dane Aronsten and twin sister Remi meet the Wiggles on Wednesday.

It has been an eventful few months for three-year old Dane Aronsten of Mt Warrigal.

Meeting The Wiggles was a great Christmas gift for Dane and his twin sister Remi. But the fact Dane is no longer being fed through a tube is a much bigger present for his mum Janelle.

A rare set of complications from birth, including a heart condition and a severe form of reflux, has prevented Dane from eating and drinking like other children his age, as he associated food with pain.

Suffering from a condition called post-traumatic feeding disorder until recently, Dane was fed only via a life-supporting feeding pump.

In August, Mrs Aronsten established a Facebook site called "Help Dane Eat", with the aim of raising $15,000 to bring "feeding specialist" Dr Markus Wilken to Australia from Germany to provide Dane with home-based tube-weaning treatment.

The community came on board and the target was reached thanks in part to The Coffee Club Shellharbour, which raised almost $9000 at a fund-raiser.

Wednesday's "meet and greet" with The Wiggles sold for $1000 at the fund-raiser and was subsequently donated to Dane.

With Dr Wilken's visit secured (costs were shared with a New Zealand family), a plan was put in place to slowly wean Dane from the tube.

The day Dr Wilken arrived on November 19 was Dane's first day off the tube.

"He basically used a form of reverse psychology and, luckily for us, Dane went for it.

"He was so comfortable with Markus," Mrs Aronsten said.

"Now the tube feeding has ceased, we are no longer tied to the house like we were, and are out and exploring the world.

"The beach, park and shops are all things that were previously not part of Dane's life."

Mrs Aronsten said Dane was still working up to a normal-sized meal and some days were better than others.

Dane has lost some weight since the tube was removed.

"We are still watching very carefully, as it can go backwards, but we just keep getting through it," she said.

As for The Wiggles, Dane and his sister Remi had a great time.

"Neither of them had been to an event like it, it was very overwhelming, but [The Wiggles] were great," Mrs Aronsten said.


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