Emerald's Declan Burson, 7, was rushed to Brisbane Children's Hospital when he couldn't feel his legs. Doctors discovered a rare condition called spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and after surgery deemed him a quadriplegic.
Emerald's Declan Burson, 7, was rushed to Brisbane Children's Hospital when he couldn't feel his legs. Doctors discovered a rare condition called spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and after surgery deemed him a quadriplegic.

Life-changing illness for young Emerald family

A SEVEN-year-old Emerald boy went from riding motorbikes and running around with his friends to being deemed a quadriplegic within days.

On March 12, Declan Burson woke up unable to move his legs. His mum, Tarryn Burson took him to Emerald Hospital where he was immediately rushed to the Queensland Children’s Hospital with Royal Flying Doctor Service.

An MRI was carried out and within hours a neurosurgical team was operating to remove a growth from the back of Declan’s spine.

FOREVER CHANGED: Declan loves to play outside.
FOREVER CHANGED: Declan loves to play outside.

Doctors discovered the seven-year-old had a birth defect called spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a rare, abnormal tangle of blood vessels on the spinal cord.

“We’re lucky he’s alive,” Ms Burson said through tears.

The mother-of-four has spent the past three weeks at Ronald McDonald House with her youngest son while her other three children have been staying with friends and family in Emerald.

“My whole family has been broken up within a matter of weeks,” Ms Burson said.

“We don’t have a choice, we have to accept what’s happened.

“But my other kids have been amazing. It’s really hard for everyone but they know their brother needs to get better.”

Tarryn Burson with her son Declan, who sat up for the first time since surgery.
Tarryn Burson with her son Declan, who sat up for the first time since surgery.

Despite surgical efforts, on Friday Ms Burson was told her son was a quadriplegic.

“He went from being a running little boy who loved playing with his dog, riding motorbikes and playing PlayStation,” she said.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone’s family.”

The young Emerald State School Year 2 student has no feeling in his arms or legs. He can use his left hand and although his right arm is weak, he can still lift it.

“He’s been very upset and in so much pain,” Ms Burson said.

“But he’s doing so well. It has been a huge adjustment and I think it made him depressed for a bit.”

She said he recently smiled and laughed for the first time in weeks, thanks to a nurse and a remote control car.

“He’s such a handsome little man. It took three weeks for him to smile again,” Ms Burson said.

“My parents are going to get his dog Felicia from Emerald and he’s really looking forward to that.”

Seven-year-old Declan has recently started smiling again.
Seven-year-old Declan has recently started smiling again.

Declan and his mum will spend the next six months at the Ronald McDonald House where he’ll undergo physiotherapy rehabilitation.

To support the family through the trying time, Ms Burson’s friends have organised a gofundme page to raise funds for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, upgrades to make their home suitable for his condition and medical bills.

“I’ve never had to think about anything like this before. I really don’t know what modified life looks like,” Ms Burson said.

The community has so far raised $1950 of a $50,000 goal.

“Thank you to everyone. I’ve never had to ask for help before but this will help so much,” Ms Burson said through tears.

Click here for updates on Declan’s progress or to make a donation.