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For over 30 years, our research has been helping kids be kids. Here, you’ll find some of their stories, just a small snapshot of the abundance of work we’re doing and remain committed to pursuing.

Browse the beautiful photos below or listen as our researchers touch on the remarkable stories of these kids. We expect their stories will change your life, just like they’ve changed ours.


Helping kids be kids


18 years old

Sarcoma & Leukaemia

Anyone who calls Angus a mate should count themselves lucky – this kid is cool. Humble, kind, comfortable in his own skin and with ridiculously good taste in music, Angus leaves a lasting impression with every conversation.

Angus is also a cancer survivor. He has survived cancer not once, but twice. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, an aggressive cancer of the bone and tissue that mostly affects children. He had no symptoms, no pain, just a lump on his leg. After 10 months of intense chemotherapy and countless surgeries, Angus was declared in remission but his battle with the harsh side effects of the treatment continued. Then in 2019, after five years of being ‘cancer-free’ Angus was diagnosed with Leukaemia, had his leg amputated and went on to battle that cancer too.

It’s not just finding a cure to these devastating cancers that motivates our cancer researchers at Telethon Kids Institute. We are working to discover new and more effective therapies with fewer debilitating side effects, so that when kids like Angus have beaten their cancer, the battle is over, and they can get back to just being kids again.

Discover what we're doing in the field of children's cancer research.


Angus's story


10 years old


Watching Dartanyon play with his brother and race around like a little Energizer bunny, it is hard to believe that this very same kid has spent countless nights in a hospital bed struggling to breathe. But for his mum Michelle, the fear and helplessness that a parent feels watching this struggle for breath is all too real.

Diagnosed with severe asthma at 18 months old, Dartanyon was a familiar face at the children’s hospital – with more than 10 hospital admissions, countless visits to the emergency department and time spent in ICU before he was five.

And while every parent just wants their kids to have a normal childhood and do what kids do – from sports carnivals to sleepovers – families living with a child who has severe asthma are constantly on high alert. Every unseen germ or virus could lead to a stay in hospital for kids like Dartanyon.

At Telethon Kids we don’t think that’s fair. Which is why our researchers are working to develop solutions such as an asthma vaccine so kids like Dartanyon can breathe easy, and just get on with being kids.

Learn more about our respiratory research.


Dartanyon's story


20 years old

Trans Pathways ambassador

His teachers always called Drew bubbly. He calls himself creative, loud and pretty fun to be around. You get the sense that, at 19, he knows himself pretty well. Six years ago, Drew took a massive step, coming out to his family as trans after having spent two years nursing the realisation that he didn’t fit the gender identity he’d been given at birth. He has been fortunate to be well supported by both his family and his school as he has undertaken the transition process over the past few years. But he knows many other young people in his position aren’t so lucky.

In 2017, the Telethon Kids Institute’s landmark Trans Pathways report revealed that young trans people are at high risk for suicide, serious depression, and anxiety – largely due to the way others react to and treat them, as well as poor access to services and support. Almost half of the 859 young people surveyed had attempted suicide and almost 80 per cent had self-harmed.

It’s statistics like these that drove Drew to become a Trans Pathways ambassador, joining with Telethon Kids researchers to help educate others and help find better ways to support trans and LGBTQI young people. So that kids can be kids – proud of who they are, whoever they may be.

Learn more about the Trans Pathways project at Telethon Kids. 


Drew's story

Isla & Miles

10 years old

Autism Spectrum

Nine-year-old twins Isla and Miles might have an autism diagnosis in common, but that’s where the similarities end. With a giant imagination and a fascination for tiny things, Isla loves immersing herself in nature and excitedly sharing her vast knowledge of unusual creatures with those around her. And for sports-loving Miles, when he’s not playing footy or scoring runs on the cricket pitch like his hero, The Don, he’s memorising statistics to one day become a sports commentator.

While they know there will be challenges ahead, parents Jenelle and Ian simply want their kids to be happy, a vision we share at Telethon Kids. Through CliniKids, our dedicated clinical service for autism and developmental delays, we’re giving families like the Russos access to individually tailored, holistic supports and the very best evidence-based therapies in the world so that children like Isla and Miles can live their best lives.

Learn more about CliniKids.


Isla and Miles

Lenix & Liam Jr

2 years old

Middle ear infections

Twin sons of West Coast Eagles player Liam Ryan, Lenix and Liam Jr, are lucky boys. Not only are they happy, healthy, busy babies, with great footy-playing genes; they have been getting their ears checked by Telethon Kids researchers for signs of middle ear infections from two months of age.

It was a very different story for big sister River, who suffered multiple ear infections and is among the 50 per cent of Aboriginal children affected by painful ear infections and hearing loss. Many of these kids spend over two years on a waitlist for specialist treatment, and the long-term effects caused by this lengthy delay last a lifetime. When you can’t hear, it affects learning, so kids face issues with language, behavioural and educational development, as well as poor mental health outcomes and job prospects in adulthood.  

The good news is this hearing loss can be prevented, and our researchers at Telethon Kids are part of a big team working to do just that. By introducing telehealth programs, cutting waitlists down to only ten days and providing kids with access to grommet surgery, we can ensure that ear infections don’t prevent kids from receiving the best possible start in life.

Learn more about our research into ear health.


Lenix and Liam's story


2 years old

Severe food allergy and anaphylaxis

A child’s first little taste of chocolate at Christmas time should be a moment of pure joy, but it wasn’t for 2-year-old Maya. Instead, it was her first anaphylactic reaction to dairy, the first time her lips and throat swelled over, and the first of many terrifying moments for her parents. And Maya is not alone. One in every ten babies in Australia has a severe food allergy, a much higher allergy rate than other countries, and a rate that continues to rise without explanation.

Imagine not being able to kiss your baby without worrying about what you’ve eaten or cuddling them without washing your hands. This is life for many parents of food allergy babies and why at Telethon Kids Institute, our researchers are working to better understand the rise in food allergies in Australia and find ways to prevent them. Ten months on and Maya is a happy, bubbly and thriving little girl who finds joy in every day, especially in music and dancing to R&B.

Find out more about our research into food allergies.


Maya's story