Music eases discomfort of disease

01:43, Jan 31 2009
MILESTONE CELEBRATION: Bradley Houia celebrates his 21st with mum Tracey, left, sister Brooke, and dad Nick at Silverdale's B.A.D restaurant.

Bradley Houia of Whangaparaoa has had to battle to make his 21st birthday.

So his family made it an extra special occasion on May 17.

Dad Nick is the Whangaparaoa Hospice shop warehouse manager, mum Tracey works in the hospice’s Silverdale boutique shop and Bradley and his younger sister Brooke, 10, both work at the Whangaparaoa facility part-time.

Born with Williams syndrome, Bradley was a sickly baby. First time mum Tracey knew there was something wrong. Bradley was always crying, coughing and vomiting, and at nine months old was very sick.

Tracey and Nick feared for his life. Bradley was diagnosed with Williams syndrome and spent the next four months in hospital with a nasal drip. With medication, he slowly gained a measure of health.

Life since then has been a struggle at times for Bradley and his family, but a struggle they have tackled with determination, love and song.

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Williams syndrome is a rare genetic disorder which occurs in about one in 7500 births, and causes medical and developmental problems.

Children born with this disorder often have similar elfin facial features, and usually have outgoing and cheerful personalities. They are also likely to suffer a series of health challenges, including heart and blood vessel problems.

Bradley’s physical problems include aortic stenosis, painful kidney infections brought on by high blood calcium levels – another common symptom – and migraines that induce epileptic fits, as well as moderate intellectual impairment. He has also had to endure several operations for hernias.

Bradley comes from a highly musical family on both sides, and this has helped lighten the tough times.

In 1992 Tracey and Nick they won the New Zealand Country Music Entertainers of the Year Award. They sing most Saturday nights at the B.A.D bar and brasserie in Silverdale, and Bradley will sometimes perform with them on stage.

For his birthday party, his grandmother – Australian singer Gina Sterling – wrote and sang a tribute song to him titled ‘His name is Bradley’. Later in the evening, Bradley performed a haka for his guests.

A particularly poignant moment came when Bradley and Nick sang ‘I Believe I Can Fly'.

NZ Autocar