Tragic end for Aussie toddler with rare brain tumour: 'Breaks my heart'

A three-year-old boy who was given just months to live after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour has died in the arms of his family on the Gold Coast.

Dustin Vaughan was surrounded by loved ones when he “took his last breath” late last month, three months after his parents received the devastating diagnosis.

“[He] will forever be in our hearts,” the toddler’s aunt Kasey Vaughan wrote online. “Until we see you in eternity with our Lord Jesus, we will miss you.”

‘The worst possible news imaginable’

On 19 July, Dustin’s family received the “worst possible news any parents could ever imagine". Doctors had discovered a very rare tumour called a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma on his brain stem and spinal column.

“Due to the location of the tumour, surgery or chemotherapy were sadly not options offered to the family,” Ms Vaughan explained. Instead his parents, David and Sarah, were told Dustin would have three to six months to live with the help of steroids to reduce swelling and symptoms.

Dustin Vaughan smiles at the camera with a mane of wild curly blonde hair. He died due to a rare brain tumour.
Dustin Vaughan passed away surrounded by family and loved ones three months after he was diagnosed with a rare and inoperable brain tumour. Source: GoFundMe

While the three-year-old began treatment, his condition progressed and he lost his ability to walk. His ability to reason was also impaired, meaning he couldn’t interact “meaningfully” with those around him.

“He is frustrated and little and just wants to play with his trucks and his parents,” his aunt said at the time. “It is without a doubt hell on earth to watch and not be able to make him well again.”

It was during this period that Ms Vaughan launched a GoFundMe page to give Dustin “the gift of constant love and comfort.” Through donations, Ms Vaughan hoped to give Dustin’s parents the ability to take time off work to be with their little boy.

“We are hoping to raise enough to give them time to hug and love him and make his end of life journey as full of comfort and love as we possibly can,” she wrote. By the time new donations were cut off, more than $10,000 had been donated.

Dustin Vaughan and a man.
Dustin Vaughan's family was given the worst news imaginable in July before their toddler went on to lose his ability to walk and reason. Source: GoFundMe

Dustin’s grief-stricken parents grateful for support

On Sunday, October 30 the toddler lost his fight. His aunt turned back to the GoFundMe page to thank the many supporters.

“We wish to thank everyone for their support during this dark time,” she said. “You have given an amazing gift to Dustin’s parents and allowed them that precious time with their son.”

Tributes have since poured in for Ms Vaughan’s “beautiful nephew".

“This breaks my heart,” one person wrote on the donation page. “I am so sorry for your loss,” said another.

“Oh sweet boy,” someone added on Facebook, “I can’t even imagine the pain his mumma is feeling.”

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