News & Media

Charlie's big battle

By: Terry Heafield

Category: People

  6.01 PM 10 July, 2015

Location: District 23 News

Views: 2108

The Ciavarella family is well known in District 23 through the service Tony and Merryn have given to the local area.  However, their lives have been rocked since their son Charlie was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

People make CFA what it is today and the Ciavarella family has been a major part of the CFA family for a long time. Tony first joined CFA in 1988 and is the current 1st Lieutenant at Oxley brigade where his wife Merryn is also a firefighter.  Tony has held various positions including as Captain for eight years, he has been involved in the Milawa, Buckley Swamp, Oxley brigades as well as a casual employee of CFA.

Through all of this the Ciavarellas now face their biggest challange. Charile, their 18-month old son, has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Charlie's illness is so rare that he is only one of 10 sufferers ever recorded worldwide.  Charlie has a rare immune condition caused by STAT1 loss of function mutation.

Charlie fell ill in August last year where he has been transferred to the RCH on a number of occasions with very long stays in hospital. Doctors have identified the genes that are causing the illness and is required to have a bone marrow transplant. Charile starts his treatment this week where he  will recieve medication, undergo chemotherapy and then have the transplant.

However he will not be out of the woods then, his recovery will include being in isolation in hospital for around 8 weeks and then transfered to a accommodation for serveral months before being able to return home.  All of this will a huge impact on the family both emotionally and financially. 

As people will not ask for financial help a friend of the family Sally Rogers has started a fundraiser called Help Charlie to assit in the cost that will be associated with Charlie's recovery. After a number of emails with Tony, I would like people to consider helping the family and  if you would like to assist in any way you can do so by visiting or on facebook at or twitter on www.twitter/Help_Charlie #HelpCharlie. Donations can also be made though a special WAW Credit Union Account: Help Charlie Fundraiser. BSB 803070 Account 89455

Here at District 23 HQ we will be having a lunch for Charlie where all proceeds will be going to the fund. 

Also please read the article in the Wangaratta Chronicle for further information


Last Updated: 13 July 2015