FAMILY: Rod Kowald with partner Becca O'Neill and young Sophia.
FAMILY: Rod Kowald with partner Becca O'Neill and young Sophia. Sean Teuma

Home where the heart is

LIFE hasn't been easy for Rod Kowald.

He has been in hospital more times than any person deserves, starting when he was just a young fella.

"I had my first heart surgery when I was six years old,” Mr Kowald said.

"When I was 12, I had a valve repair, where I had a human valve put in, thanks to a donor.

"Then I required another valve operation when I was 18.”

From this point, Mr Kowald was told by doctors he could act like a normal 18-year-old.

"I was driving heavy machinery, and moving around like anybody else my age would,” he said.

"However when I was working in Cairns, I suffered a blood infection.

"They had to fly me by a passenger airline to Brisbane for surgery.

"I had a temperature of 44 degrees and lost my memory for six weeks.”

Since then, Mr Kowald has always tried to live close to a hopsital and said it was a key factor in his decision recently to move to the Rose City.

"I made the move to Warwick in December last year,” he said.

"It's a nice place between the country and the city, and a great place to raise a family.”

Growing up on a farm, Mr Kowald appreciates the lifestyle, and said he would like his kids to eventually on their own.

"I have a plan for my kids to buy a farm together rather than try to buy a house,” he said.

"If they stick together, they can buy a decent sized farm for just a little bit more than a house.

"It will also give them the opportunity to make a decent living out of it.

"It's important they get their trades and apprenticeships, to give them that best possible chance in life.”

Mr Kowald said he has had the chance to make a number of new friends since his family moved to the Rose City.

"There are many different groups in town, such as farmers and those in the machinery industry,” he said.

"I've been lucky enough to make friends with a lot of different people.

"The Pig and Calf Sale is another way that I've been able to connect with people.”

Despite the fact Mr Kowald is unable to join the workforce because of his health conditions, he continues to help out where he can.

"As much as I'd like to, I can't commit myself to a job,” he said.

"A good mate that I've made is in a wheelchair in Allora.

"He asked me to mow his lawn and, when I first came, he was using a hand mower.

"He couldn't afford it, so I didn't charge him.

"Now when he needs it done, he just gives me fuel money and that's it, as I won't accept anything more.

"I enjoy helping other people because they've helped me a lot.”