In July 2011 Richie was admitted to the hospital emergency department, one week after his seventh birthday.
He had a persistent cough, had lost weight and become so lethargic he was short of breath even when lying flat on a bed.
It was so out of character for this out-going rugby fan who enjoyed the outdoors and playing sports with his friends.
A heart scan showed that he had a severely enlarged heart due to a badly leaking valve.
His mitral valve had been attacked by rheumatic fever and progressed to rheumatic heart disease, meaning he had to undergo open-heart surgery to repair the valve. He spent the next seven weeks at Starship Hospital.
An only child, Richie now needs monthly penicillin injections until he is 30 years of age, and the disease has affected his ability to play sport.
But whilst he may not be able to play rugby like his hero Richie McCaw, Richie loves skateboarding and watching wrestling on TV.
Richie lives in Auckland with his dad, who is also called Richie, and his mum Natasha and they love going camping as a family.
Richie’s dream is to be a rally driver and a professional golfer. He recently got his own set of golf clubs.