Kevin was a normal healthy active child growing up in a rural area in the New Britain Province on the island if Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.  Life was simple until he was diagnosed with a juvenile angiofibroma a relatively rare condition which only occurs in teenage boys, a growth develops between the eyes and spreads within the skull.  This is his story of a life saved thanks to Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children.
Kevin, born 2004 was a normal healthy active child growing up in a rural area in the New Britain Province on the island if Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. The youngest of seven children to Paul and Veronica Tavir the family own land on which they grow crops for the markets among other enterprises. Their community Toma is one hour inland from Kokopo the islands main town and commercial centre.
Life was simple for Kevin, there is no electricity or running water and from an early age he was required to chop the firewood each day to fuel the oven. Other chores involved pollinating crops and tending nursery plants and making and selling ice blocks, he was very enterprising and diligent at school .Kevin attended the local Catholic Church every week with the family and even played the music for services by the time he was 12 but this idyllic life was about to change.
At about age 12 in 2016 Kevin started experiencing dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, nose bleeds and hearing loss. His nose was so blocked he couldn't breathe through it even eating was difficult. Eventually he was diagnosed with a juvenile angiofibroma a relatively rare condition which only occurs in teenage boys, a growth develops between the eyes and spreads within the skull.
Eventually, in January 2018 Kevin and Veronica flew to Port Moresby seeking treatment. Without beds available at the hospital the pair slept on an open veranda on the deck for six months. The growth had become too advanced to be treated locally and the family were referred to ROMAC (Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children) a Rotary charity providing lifesaving and dignity enhancing surgery for children in the Pacific islands who could not access treatment in their own countries.
Finding a surgical team willing to take on Kevin's advanced case was not easy but two Auckland Surgeons Dr Peter Hepner and Dr Richard Douglas said "we do difficult, bring it on" so ROMAC NZ did just that.
However, in the meantime Veronica and Kevin, after having waited 6 months returned home. Veronica constantly telling Kevin to be patient and she never gave up hope. By this time Kevin was blind in his left eye, deaf in his right ear, his eyes were bulging, he had severe nose bleeds and was not at all well.
Communication in rural New Britain is not easy and ROMAC lost contact with the family but a very enterprising Rotarian had an appeal broadcast on the local Kokopo radio station, which was heard by a friend of Veronicas, Liz Hubert in Kokopo who would later be very helpful getting Kevin to NZ for education.
Veronica and Kevin landed in NZ at mid night in mid-September 2018 for what would become a life changing experience.
Ronald MacDonald House became home and the Rotary Club of Remuera their hosts. Starship Children's Hospital and Auckland in particular was an unimaginable world away from Loma and Kokopo. The family duo would spend almost 6 months in NZ during which time Rotary members formed very close friendships and Kevin's potential would be recognised.
Richard Douglas, MD,FRACS,FRACP.
Richard is a rhinologist with a particular interest in endoscopic sinus and medial skull surgery. He is a Professor in surgery at the University of Auckland and Consultant surgeon at Auckland City Hospital and his private practice is at the Mauranui Clinic in Epsom.
On November 23rd 2020 Richard addressed the Rotary Club of Remuera presenting Kevin's case (with his permission) Many members of the ROMAC NZ committee were present as were pupils from Dilworth and Diocesan Schools who are being sponsored by Remuera Rotary to the 2021 Summer Science Forum.
Richard explained the difficulties of Kevin's case with imaging from MRI and CT scans. To complete the removal of the growth surgery was via the nasal passages. It took a total of 20 hours over three operations. Haemorrhaging was a major factor and extreme care had to be taken to not interfere with the blood supply to the brain which could have caused a stroke among other complications.
The final operation was a 12-hour marathon with a theatre support team of 18. Even after this effort 5% of growth remained in an inaccessible position and the decision was made to refer Kevin to Dr Anthony Falkov at Auckland Radiation Oncology (ARO) for 22 rounds of radiation to ensure the growth was finally eradicated.
Kevin and Veronica returned to PNG in early March 2019.
Unfortunately, the family’s problems continued, and they soon had to return to Port Moresby Hospital for Pauls leg to be amputated due to complications from diabetes.
At the meeting on 23rd November Remuera Rotary awarded Richard a Paul Harris Fellow in recognition of his work and for continuing to treat Kevin in his private practice since his return to NZ.
Kevin Tavir and Wesley College.
Since late February 2020 Kevin has been a full-time boarder at Wesley.
As mentioned earlier many members of Remuera Rotary became involved with hosting Kevin and Veronica and in particular Norman Johnston, Chairman of the Wesley College Trust Board. Norman has served on the board for 50 years hence the Board wished to recognise this. Norman saw potential in Kevin and said he wanted nothing for himself only a Scholarship for Kevin which the Board approved. After much difficulty obtaining a Student Visa Kevin arrived back in NZ late February 2020 to start his new life at Wesley College and with The Rotary Club of Remuera, his hosts. His Guardians are Remuera Rotary member Wayne Brewer and Sharon, ROMAC NZ Secretary.
Following Richard Douglas' address on 23 November Kevin responded by describing how he has embraced life at Wesley but just as importantly what he had gone through prior to surgery. Now 16 Kevin described missing his family, the frustration and pain he felt and that he wanted to become a Doctor as he knows first-hand what it is like to suffer.
In August Kevin suffered a family loss when his father passed away but for his young years he is embracing life and moving on.
Since surgery Kevin's hearing has returned, his eyes have retracted but the sight has not returned in his left eye there is no dizziness, headaches or nose bleeds.
Kevin expressed his appreciation to ROMAC, Remuera Rotary and Richard Douglas for giving him his life back. It was a very moving address.
Wayne Brewer.
Guardian / Carer.