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Five years after undergoing brain surgery, Keanu has returned to the Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH) in Brisbane to recognise the healthcare hero who saved his life.
The procedure that gave Keanu a full life ahead of him was performed by leading neurosurgeon Dr Gert Tollesson.
In recognition of his bright future, Keanu nominated Dr Tollesson as the next recipient of the Juiced TV Super Hero Awards, proudly supported by QSuper, part of Australian Retirement Trust. The program shines a light on medical and support staff − the doctors, nurses, volunteers and others − who selflessly dedicate themselves to the wellbeing of others.
Australian Retirement Trust was formed through the merger of QSuper and Sunsuper and is one of Australia’s largest super funds. 2.2 million Australians trust us to take care of over $240 billion of their retirement savings.
What had started as a medical mystery surrounding 11-year-old Keanu’s height, turned out to be a brain tumour that was not only stunting Keanu’s growth but threatening his life. Within two days of identifying the tumour, Keanu was scheduled for emergency surgery.
“It was a whirlwind and a challenging thing for Keanu to go through. After years of asking the question ‘why?’, the answer we finally got didn’t give us any relief,” said Keanu’s father Ken.
In the month’s during Keanu’s recovery, he became affectionately known as the ‘professor’ among his medical team; a nickname bestowed on him by Dr Tollesson.
“Keanu was always an inquisitive person. Despite going through a traumatic brain surgery, he was always googling and researching different things to help him understand what had happened,” Dr Tollesson said.
Ken said that at one point Keanu was even quizzing the residents in training during their rounds − at Dr Tollesson’s encouragement.
Ken and his wife first met Dr Tollesson while Keanu was being prepped for surgery, and, when faced with many unknowns, had the overwhelming sense that Dr Tollesson was the best person for the job.
“You know when you get an instantly good feeling about someone? Well, I got that when I met Gert,” Ken said.
“He never spoke down to us. Gert always approached us with an openness that we needed during Keanu’s medical journey. He had true empathy and a duty of care to our family.”
Dr Tollesson was incredibly touched when he learned he had been nominated by Keanu for the Juiced TV Super Hero Awards.
“A massive thanks to Australian Retirement Trust for developing this program that celebrates our healthcare workers.”
Bonding over trivia and their shared Swedish heritage, Dr Tollesson and Keanu became fast friends during his initial hospitalisation. This friendship has only grown over the years, where Dr Tollesson now goes out of his way to catch up with Keanu and Ken whenever they are in for a check-up.
“I have no doubt that Keanu will forge his own path and apply his ‘professor’ mind to whatever takes his interest. I have learnt so much from him and am eager to cheer him on,” said Dr Tollesson, pictured below right with Ken and Keanu.
Five years on from the operation, Keanu is heavily involved in school and is dedicated to honing his skills as a ‘professor’. Currently, he is a straight-A student, involved in volunteering and leadership courses, and has taught himself three languages and three instruments.
“Keanu is now in senior school and the pathways for him have really opened up. We cannot be prouder of him,” Ken said.
“We honestly owe this outcome to Gert who took such care in looking after Keanu.”
"As one of Australia's largest super funds, Australian Retirement Trust is proud to help celebrate healthcare practitioners like Gert who change the lives of young patients," Australian Retirement Trust CEO Bernard Reilly said.
For more information visit qsuper.qld.gov.au or www.juicedtv.com.au.
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