A dying dad is using the power of books to create a lifetime of memories for his newborn son.
Motor Neurone Disease robbing a baby of his father
Dr Ian Davis wasn’t sure if he would ever meet his baby. The promising young Melbourne cancer researcher was diagnosed with the incurable motor neurone disease almost three years ago – and given two years to live. The disease eats away at nerve cells, and so far it’s affected his legs and an arm.
He knows that at some point, it will take his voice. So after wife Melissa Yang became pregnant, he began recording videos of himself reading children’s books for son Archie in case he never got to hear his dad’s voice.
“Hi my boy, it’s time to read you a book. As you know my voice is starting to go a little bit so I’m a little bit worried about not being able to read to you in a few months. So today we’re going to read another book,” he says in the introduction to one video.
Dr Davis, 36, tells 60 Minutes: “MND is going to take a lot away from me. It’s already taking my legs. it’s starting to take my right hand. But one of the things that really scares me is it’s going to take my voice. I’m hoping that if I’m not around, that these videos which I’m recording will give him something to remember me by.”
He has thrown himself into raising money to search for a cure for MND. He is also ticking off a bucket list, which has included going on stage with Pearl Jam, skydiving and an ice bucket challenge for MND. He also rode from Brisbane to Sydney on a tandem bike with friend and fellow MND sufferer Scott Sullivan. Sadly, 11 months after their ride, his mate succumbed to the fatal disease.
“I’m going to try to hang around as long as I can but I think we’re under no false pretenses that at some stage (Melissa and Archie) will both lose me, and my son won’t have a father any more,” Dr Davis says. “And it’s one of the prime reasons why I do what I do, because I think every father wants their son to be proud of them and I just hope he likes all the things I’m doing to try and help people.”
And he is exceeding medical expectations – happily he has met son Archie, who was born a few weeks ago. “I never thought I would be a dad and to now finally see him in the flesh and to know that half of me is in there and that will be there after I’m gone is pretty exciting,” he says.