Kate works as a General Practitioner in Auckland and is a trustee of Hearts4Kids. She has become involved with Hearts4Kids through her partner Brent McSharry who is team intensive care doctor. Kate had been taking on some administrative, editorial and promotional tasks.
Their two young children now play " Heart surgery in Fiji " games at home.
Alex is an experienced communications strategist with more than 15 years working across Asia Pacific and the U.S. As part of her work at Bill Gates’ Seattle-based think tank, Alex managed the launch of the Giving Pledge, a campaign launched by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to establish new norms around wealth and giving in the United States. Alex also worked in-house for Microsoft Corporation for seven years running worldwide PR, managing citizenship strategy and working on executive communications.
Today, Alex is based in New Zealand running her own communications consulting practice for clients on both sides of the Pacific. Passionate about supporting New Zealand, Alex helps organisations with their fundraising approach and is also Executive Director of ArcAngels, an angel organisation dedicated to investing in women founders and their businesses.
Michelle is retired. Her working career included managing the administration staff for Cardiac Services, Greenlane Hospital, hence her interest in working with former colleagues and contributing as Volunteer Administrator for Hearts4Kids.
Her volunteer community involvement over the years has included Playcentre, Pippins, Brownies, Awataha Young Mariners, Youth for Understanding Exchange Student programme and Rotary, so supporting the Hearts4Kids Paediatric Cardiac Surgical team with the wonderful work they do is her way of contributing in a meaningful way.
"The planning, logistics and fundraising that goes into mission preparation is huge! The Hearts4Kids team are great to work with, everyone is aligned and committed to a common goal - making a difference for these children."
She is married, with three adult daughters, and her two young granddaughters live in Germany. Other interests include travel, reading, genealogy and photography.
Mark works as a perfusionist for the team. This means he has the very difficult role of controlling the bypass machine which acts as the heart and lungs whilst Kirsten operates on the still, non-beating heart. The majority of operations performed in 2014 and 2015 involved bypass. Mark has volunteered for previous missions with Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation.
"Meeting the families and seeing how our mission changed their lives was a special experience."
Mark has become a trustee with Hearts4Kids:
" When the opportunity to start the Trust which focused on children came about, it felt natural to get involved and promote this work which is desperately needed in the Pacific Islands. I am looking forward to years of missions, impacting positively on the children, families and communities of the islands."
Mark was born in Coventry, England, where he completed his Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Exercise Physiology and Health. He worked throughout the UK as a specialised perfusionist before settling in NZ in 2009. He enjoys cycling and playing the cornet and trumpet (although not all at the same time).
Darren’s role in the mission is to oversee and co-ordinate the technical side of things in the operating theatre. By nature, cardiac surgery is quite a complex affair, with a lot of machines, wires, tubes and sensors. It is a big job organising all the things we need to do children’s heart surgery in another country, but one he does gladly, and he is proud to be part of the Hearts4Kids team.
Darren trained in the cardiac theatres at Green Lane Hospital in the early 1990’s and has been involved with cardiac anaesthesia and children’s cardiology for over 22 yrs.
After a 6yr stint at a number of prestigious training hospitals in London, including Great Ormond Hospital for Sick Children and St Thomas’, he has been based in the cardiac operating theatres at Starship Hospital for over 14 yrs.
2014 was Darren’s first charity trip to the Pacific, where he worked in both the Adult and Children’s mission. He found this incredibly rewarding and can’t wait to get back to Fiji to help the local children once again.
“A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to make these trips possible. Nights, weekends, and lunch breaks are taken up for months planning all the things we need. The actual work in Fiji involves marathon days of back breaking work in stifling heat, but for me, seeing the kids up, walking and smiling days after their surgeries is all the payment I need.”
Darren has lived on Auckland’s North Shore all his life, aside from his work and travels overseas. In his spare time he can be found scuba diving, hunting kingfish, blasting around the Hauraki Gulf on his jet ski, or snowboarding the slopes of Mt Ruapehu in winter.
Jackie is part of the theatre nursing team. In all of the operations there are two nurses on the theatre floor assisting Kirsten with the surgery. Jackie has a worked in heart surgery in New Zealand for over twenty years. She is originally from Scotland where she graduated nursing in 1982. Jackie was part of the 2015 trip which she describes as an amazing experience. "To see the difference you make to the children and families reminds me of why I became a nurse in the first place. It is always such a pleasure to work alongside the local teams who do so much for us, always with a smile on their faces" .
When she is not hard at work, Jackie enjoys spending time with her 'fur babies' and watching movies.
Ann is a member of the Intensive Care nursing team going to Lautoka in 2017. This involves caring for the children in the immediate post-operative period, when they are still requiring ventilation and close monitoring.
Ann has worked in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Starship since 2003. She is an expert cardiac nurse, having previously worked at Green Lane Hospital. She is also on the PICU transport team, flying all around New Zealand, and occasionally the Pacific, to retrieve critically ill children who require Starship’s expert care.
Ann was part of the 2014 mission to Lautoka and the 2015 mission to Suva. She has found the previous missions incredibly fulfilling, watching the children bounce back from their surgery. She has also been impressed by how humble and grateful the children’s parents are. Ann also enjoys working with the Fiji nurses, who are so eager to learn.
Ann lives in West Auckland with her husband and two adult children.
The Fijian kids are so staunch and their parents so grateful for the chance to give their children a normal life. These were children who would not have survived a flight to another country for surgery and quite likely wouldn't have survived until the next mission. I learned just how much you can do with a cohesive and talented team of people despite very few resources.
My favourite is still Mary, who could barely walk around the bed prior to surgery and a few days post op was running down the ward chasing another child. I hope to see her legs are a lot fatter if she comes to visit us this year!
Isekeli, though a bit of a crier, was also very cute. He didn't cry because he was in pain, just when his Grandma wouldn't let him get his own way! He loved the donated felt pens and I found him in the ward one day, covered head to toe in blue felt pen. The kids were actually sad to go home because they made so many good friends.
Margaret went to Fiji in 2014 as representative and funded by Pacific Surgical - a company that generously donated important equipment for the mission.
Also a registered nurse, Margaret's nursing skills were in demand last year.
I worked really hard as the medical rep, but also as an RN, and became a member of an amazing team of dedicated people. The hours were long and everyone worked hard to ensure that we were able to help as many children as possible. The operating days were arduous, but the commitment from all team members including ward and intensive care staff made sure that as many children were helped if at all possible. To enable this, the team worked together, like I have never seen before. Everyone helped everyone else.
For Margaret, the trip was life changing and life affirming.
I have now moved on from Pacific Surgical in search of new challenges, but touched by the kids I helped in 2014, and the enthusiasm & camaraderie of the team, I am keen to return.
Jocelyn (Joce) joins the Hearts4Kids nursing ward team for the first time this year. She has a 40+yr-nursing career with the last 26yrs of this working in paediatrics and the majority of that within the specialty of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiothoracic surgery in New Zealand at GreenLane and Starship Hospitals and has recently returned from 4 years in Australia where she worked for the Queensland Paediatric Cardiac Service.
Joce is not new to volunteering for children with heart conditions, as was a regular member of the medical team that attends the Heart Kids NZ annual camps. She believes that not only are we all a part of our local and national communities but part of the global community and that if we have the skills, resources and opportunity to help improve the lives of our neighbors especially the children then everyone benefits. “There is nothing more satisfying than seeing very sick children and worried parents transform into smiling, active and relaxed families within a few days of surgery, lives transformed – I love being a part of that”
Joce is married with 2 adult children and 2 gorgeous very active preschool granddaughters that she loves being closer too (and knitting for) now that she is settled back in New Zealand. Living in Hamilton, she is currently a member of the Waikato Hospital Nursing Resource Team.
Antonia comes to the team with over eleven years of cardiac experience. She began her career in adult cardiothoracics, which after five years led her to take the plunge and move to Saudi Arabia. It was there that she started working in Pediatrics. Having exposure to significant cardiac anomalies in the High Dependency Unit sparked her interest in the field and she stayed on for 3.5 years. Returning to NZ, she recommenced her adult cardiac surgical nursing career, before moving to Starship Children's Hospital and worked on the Cardiology Ward. Antonia has since moved back to adult nursing and has joined the Friends of Fiji cardiac surgical mission for the past two years. When the opportunity arose for Antonia to join the Hearts4Kids team this year, she jumped at the opportunity. Antonia says she is very excited about her upcoming challenge and cannot wait to work with the kids again. "They are such little troopers".
Selena has worked as a Staff Nurse at Starship Children's Hospital since graduating in 2006, initially working in General Paediatrics before specialising in Paediatric Cardiology in 2009.
Her role involves providing ward based care to patients once they are discharged from the Intensive Care environment, and preparing patients for discharge.
Selena feels privileged to be joining such an amazing team of talented, dedicated and inspiring individuals for such a valuable humanitarian cause, on her first mission trip to Fiji this September.
Selena works part time currently, spending most of the time enjoying the company of her four year old son and one year old daughter. She also loves keeping fit with bootcamp classes.
Gemma is the Clinical Charge Nurse in the Starship Cardiology Service and has been a part of this team for over 10 years. Having worked mainly in Pediatric Cardiology during her nursing career she is very driven and committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for the patients and families that she cares for.
Gemma will be leaving behind her two very busy preschoolers but is looking forward to joining the Hearts4Kids team.
“I have heard such amazing stories of the work undertaken in previous years and am very committed to supporting another successful mission”.