Teen’s legacy lives on one year after tragic death
A year ago today, Mackay teenager Ethan Neylan took his last breath, his body having lost the battle against failing kidneys.
The 13-year-old boy had dreamed of being a policeman, his mum Tamara Purdue said.
"I miss him, I miss him so much," Ms Purdue said.
"Even though it's been a year now, it's still as raw as the day he passed away.
"(The night before), he was so unsettled, I had given him something to settle him down.
"He went to sleep that night and he went into a coma early in the morning.
"My world was shattered, I went blank.
"I can't even explain that feeling when his grandfather said, 'He's taken his last breath'.
"We ran straight in there and I grabbed him.
"Somebody else is like, 'Come back, come back' and I said, 'Please, let him go'.
Unable to have one last conversation with her son, Ms Purdue said she was comforted that Ethan spent his last night on earth sleeping beside his beloved animals.
"He loved every single animal underneath the sun - axelotyl, bearded dragon, you name it," she said.
"He would always bathe either the dogs or the birds in the shower and the dogs would sleep with him every night."
He even once put washing detergent in his Aunty Emily's fish tank to give them a bath.
"Sorry Aunty, but you know I love bubbles," he had said.
Ms Purdue said the family had to regularly bathe their pets to make it safe for Ethan who was first diagnosed with kidney disease at age three.
But she said he never let it hold him back.
"He just blew my mind ever since I could remember," she said.
"I delivered him on the back seat of my car.
"Ever since he was born, he's just shown me and taught me so much in his little life.
"He'd walk in a room and he'd just light up everyone's faces.
"He had a heart of gold, he loved all his cousins and whoever came in contact with him - he always had them laughing.
"He lived life to the fullest, and no one could ever take that away from him, not even renal failure.
"He used to run down the aisles of the hospital attached to the bloody pole."
For much of last year, Ethan underwent dialysis treatment at the Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane, having been diagnosed with renal failure in March.
"We got rushed to the hospital by the RACQ jet, and he walked on the plane and everything," Ms Purdue said.
"He was so strong and so tough."
But despite his kidneys failing him, Ethan was ineligible for a transplant because he also had Prader - Willi syndrome, which as a teen caused him to be constantly hungry.
"(They) said he'd have to be sedated and have lifelong drugs to keep that kidney in his body and not have it rejected," Ms Purdue said
"So they decided there was no way he could get a kidney.
"He was end of life.
"We took him home, made him comfortable and swore we'd never take him back to hospital."
Ethan enjoyed one last big birthday bash for his 13th before passing away just weeks later at 5pm on Sunday, September 20, 2019.
Ms Purdue said her two other children had been her rock over the past 12 months.
"(Ethan) left a big hole in everyone's heart.
"The first two months were the hardest but it hasn't gotten any better.
"It's probably one of the worst things that a mother should ever have to go through."
Today, to commemorate Ethan's life, the family will head down to the Gooseponds to feed the ducks followed by lunch at Blacks Beach.
"He loved feeding the ducks," Ms Purdue said.
"Me and Ethan used to go down just about every second or third day.
"These ducks would come into his lap and let him pat them.
"We called him our bird whisperer."
Ms Purdue thanked the Mackay community who donated money towards Ethan's funeral.
"We were blown away with the kindness of people," she said.
"We were able to give him an extra special send off."