Mum's brave fight to keep memory alive of her late daughter

PERSONALITY: Hayley Spinks' personality shines through in this image taken a few months before she collapsed with heart problems.

PERSONALITY: Hayley Spinks' personality shines through in this image taken a few months before she collapsed with heart problems.

Born with a congenital heart defect, Hayley Spinks was nicknamed the “Flea” by her doting mother.

Sadly, Hayley’s heart gave out while she was swimming at Fisherman’s Bay when aged 12 years old in 2011.

Despite a mercy dash for treatment in Melbourne, she died with mum Kim Gregory at her side.

“She had a big personality for the little flea that she was. I used to call her a flea because there was not much of her. She made up for it with personality – she was pretty dynamic,” Ms Gregory said.

She said Wednesday, January 8, was the eight-year anniversary of the day her daughter collapsed.

“Tuesday, January 15, would have been her 21st birthday,” she said.

“In 2016 for the five-year anniversary, we held the Hearts for Hayley fundraising event at the Port Broughton Hotel and raised $8500.

“On Saturday, January 19, we will host another event to raise money for the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. There will be a $25 raffle with a drink and pizza included at the hotel between 2pm and 6pm, Merchandise will be sold and there will be an admission fee.

“Prizes will include wine and holiday accommodation at Sellicks Beach."

Ms Gregory is the new UniHub Spencer Gulf Port Pirie co-ordinator, promoting tertiary study among young people.

She said her daughter would have embraced the idea of studying locally.

Hayley had her first open-heart surgery as a baby in Melbourne while the family was living in Adelaide. In 2010, she had similar surgery. “She came out of that beautifully and the doctors gave her the all-clear,” her mother said.

“We were organising her 13th birthday party when she collapsed on the pontoon at Fisherman’s Bay.

“The retrieval team landed on the beach and flew her and I back to Adelaide. The open-heart team flew over from Melbourne to put her on a heart-lung machine.

“She rallied for three days and then her brain stopped responding and they turned off the machine.”

She rallied for three days and then her brain stopped responding and they turned off the machine.

Kim Gregory, mother

Ms Gregory’s voice trailled off as she was overcome with emotion at the loss of her only child.

She is putting her efforts into creating great futures for young women and men through the university – just as Hayley would have liked.

The “Flea” brought joy to her family and friends and now there is the opportunity to contribute towards saving the lives of others with heart problems. 

The late Victor Chang was a pioneer of modern heart transplants. 

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