BUTTON BUDDIES: Zephyr's dad has a tattoo similar to his son's feeding tube button, and has been joking that he's going to lose his 'button buddy'.
BUTTON BUDDIES: Zephyr's dad has a tattoo similar to his son's feeding tube button, and has been joking that he's going to lose his 'button buddy'. Contributed

Mums team up for 'tubie' support

FIVE-year-old Zephyr Anderson has lived with a feeding tube all his life.

From only six weeks of age, Zephyr has been reliant on a special formula to ensure he gets his required nutrients as a combination of two rare food allergies means he reacts badly even to breast milk.

Over time, the Mountain Creek boy has slowly expanded on his list of "safe foods” that don't make him sick and is now looking at having his gastrostomy button removed.

"At the moment we're hoping he'll be able to drink his formula orally instead of through the button and getting it out in the next six months,” Zephyr's mum Kate Anderson said.

"He's excited to get it out but it's a little bit nerve-racking at the same time.”

Another mum dealing with a child reliant on a feeding tube, Sarah Gray, said there was a lack of support in the community, which inspired her to found the charity ausEE.

"You generally feel isolated (having the tube),” she said.

"Because (the tube is) often in the stomach, you actually don't know who's out there (with the tubes) and I wanted to change the stigma around them.”

Ms Anderson also founded her own support group, AU Tubie Support, which paired with ausEE this week to raise awareness of children and adults who are living with feeding tubes.

"You come to realise you're not the only one in that situation,” she said.

"In previous years, when Zephyr was in school, we'd just go along and talk about the button so kids didn't get freaked out.

"It's the same idea.”

For more details, visit www.ausee.org or search AU Tubie Support on Facebook.


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