This Christmas, babies like Michael will be fighting one of the leading causes of death of Australian babies.
Michael’s first Christmas was spent in intensive care instead of at home with his family
Michael’s journey started on November 29, 2017 with no prior indication of heart problems. He was born 6 weeks premature after Mum Jessica experienced severe medical complications which culminated in an emergency C-Section at the Sydney Adventist Hospital (SAN).
Michael was originally diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), a common condition with C-Section delivered babies. A slight murmur was also detected. Both Jessica and Dad Anthony were advised that Michael (along with Jessica) would be transferred over to Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) for further treatment.
Whilst in Special Care, the team once again detected the murmur. An echo was done and a significant Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) as the cause of Michael’s respiratory problems was discovered.
"What should have been such a great experience was getting worse by the day"
Jessica recalls those moments as though they were yesterday. “I learnt of this news on my own. My initial thoughts were ‘How am I going to explain this to Anthony?’ Once Anthony arrived at Michael’s bedside, I broke down. We had been through so much in such a short period of time. What should have been such a great experience was getting worse by the day. We spent the next week not knowing what the course of action would be? ”
Jessica and Anthony were advised that Michael would eventually need surgery. How soon would depend on how his condition developed. They were in a holding pattern of wait and see. Some days were good, others not so good. It was an absolute roller coaster for them.
Over the next week however, Michael's condition worsened and he became a priority case. He was transferred to the already full Children’s Hospital at Westmead and within 24 hours he had his open-heart surgery to repair the VSD.
He was 21 days old.
"The hardest part for Anthony and I though, was handing him over to the surgeon"
“The night before his surgery was really hard. The team at the Grace were amazing in comforting us and making sure we were prepared for what was to come" says Jessica. “The hardest part for Anthony and I though, was handing him over to the surgeon. He was this little thing in this incubator and we just had to let him go and pray for the best. ”
Michael’s condition didn’t just impact Anthony and Jessica, it really rocked their entire network of family and friends. “The thoughts and prayers we received from our family and friends here in Australia, and from around the world was amazing. What was more amazing though, were the little things from the team at HeartKids. We had no idea who HeartKids were until we got to the Grace. They made us feel that we were not alone and they were there looking out for us. It was approaching Christmas time and they left this Christmas hamper for us. It was not expected, nor was it necessary. But this is just how thoughtful they were. They just wanted to make sure that we could focus purely on Michael”.
Thanks to the team at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Michael survived the surgery, battled through his first couple of nights, and slowly started having various tubes and wires removed.
"HeartKids go about their business supporting each and every family and we will be forever grateful to them.”
“We count our blessings every day and are so thankful for the emotional support we received from HeartKids and the hospital staff. Michael’s heart beads are on display in our home for all of us and represent a significant time for us. So many families go through these sorts of life changing events and it’s amazing how organisations like HeartKids are there to provide support and assistance. We were lucky to have family and friends all around us but we saw so many families doing it tough during our time in hospital. HeartKids go about their business supporting each and every family and we will be forever grateful to them.”
“Every day spent with Michael now is just the most amazing gift. We know we were very lucky that Michael’s journey was a quick one. There are families out there that aren’t as lucky as we were. This is why it’s critical that HeartKids continues to do the work they do. Every Christmas we reflect. Not only are we thankful for coming out the other end, but also acknowledge the families that are still going through it. Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a sick child is harder. Being a parent of a sick heart baby is made that little bit easier thanks to the work of HeartKids ” says Jessica.
To read the FULL STORY of Michael's journey click here.
As a friend of HeartKids, will you give a special Christmas gift this year to help provide Christmas Cheer to around 200 families who will be spending Christmas in hospital?