Stroke Mum


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There was a time when nothing could diminish the smile of proud Adelaide mum Jodie Woodhead, but these days there's not much to smile about.

Jodie is a victim of a mean- spirited bureaucracy, refusing to help a South Aussie family in need.

It all started in February this year. Jodie went into early labour with baby number 5, Jessinta born 12 weeks premature with a hole in her heart.

However little Jessinta's complications were perhaps eclipsed by an even greater tragedy involving mum, Jodie.

"She ended up having an aneurism in the brain which the blood vessel burst and leaked a lot of blood into her head" husband Colin explains.

Jodie was rushed to the Royal Adelaide for emergency surgery to stop the bleeding. While the operation was a success, when Jodie came out from her induced coma, she suffered not one but three strokes.

Colin: "I was told twice that I was going to lose her, that she wouldn't make it then from there I was told if she did make it there'd be all the possibilities in the world that she'd never be able to talk or walk again"

Four months on, Jodie can't talk, dress, cook or fend for herself.

Cash strapped and desperate, Colin relocated the family to Adelaide from Victor Harbor to access support and therapy - all provided for by Flinders Medical Centre and Disability SA.

"I could not be happier with the staff at flinders the way they've treated us throughout this whole ordeal � it's the other areas that are lacking"

Colin's referring to the callous tactics of Centrelink for knocking back the Woodhead's request for a Disability Support Pension or even a Carer's allowance, because they say it takes two years to assess whether Jodie and others like her are in fact disabled.

Of course no one, not even doctors, can look in a crystal ball and say in two years time Jodie will have fully recovered, but according to Centrelink any sign of an improvement is good enough to deem her fit to work at least 15 hours a week.

The decision has forced Colin to do the unthinkable - splitting up the family so he can pay the bills.

Colin: "At the moment I've got my eldest girl and my 2nd eldest boy in Sydney with my parents"

Reporter: It's such a precious age for them to be apart � How are they holding up? Very worried about mum
Rebecca Ingham is one of Jodie's only friends in Adelaide. While she's tried to help out where possible, she can't believe Centrelink don't seem to be as generous.

"There should be something in place that sort of says well you know we're going to help you because you are obviously having necessity to be able to access these services" Rebecca argues

On Tuesday, baby Jessinta will be flown to Melbourne with Dad for her much- needed heart surgery. However what's to become of Jodie and her two remaining kids all on their own?

Today Centrelink's spokesperson Hank Jongen was more sympathetic than the blunt rejection letter the Woodhead's had received earlier.

"Well as a result of contact made to us, including your program, we are treating this case as a review case we're reviewing the medical evidence and we've now obtained additional evidence from the husband"

Colin says he doesn't ask for much, but right now he needs all the help he can get.