Ayda’s story

Vikki and Jono were on a family holiday in Margaret River in 2013 when their then two and a half year old daughter, Ayda, became unwell.


Ayda hooked up to a ventilator to keep her breathing in the Intensive Care Unit.

When she continued to get sicker, the concerned parents took her to get checked by a local GP who told them to take her straight to hospital. The nearest Emergency Department was 40 minutes away in Busselton.

No sooner had they arrived at the hospital than Ayda collapsed and was put into a coma. Next came the difficult fight to keep her alive – she needed to get to specialist care in Perth, fast. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) were called and quickly had Ayda on board an aircraft. They were about to arrive in Perth when bad weather meant they had to be diverted to Rottnest Island.

It was a nervous wait. The RFDS doctor has since told Vikki and Jono that she wasn’t sure if they could keep Ayda stable enough to get her to Princess Margaret Hospital. Thankfully they did. Ayda arrived at PMH and remained in a medically induced coma for 15 days.

Once out of the coma, doctors were amazed by Ayda’s recovery.

“The doctors in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit said that when Ayda’s condition when she arrived is considered, it is a miracle she recovered and is alive today,” Vikki said.

“We are under no illusion that the only reason we still have our daughter is because of the amazing doctors and support staff of the Busselton Emergency Department, RFDS and Princess Margaret Hospital. They are the most valuable members of our community and we have the utmost respect for them. Jono and I cannot thank them enough for saving our little girl.”


Ayda recovering on the ward in PMH

Doctors are still not sure what caused Ayda’s sudden illness, but it’s likely she had a viral infection of the heart – a condition that can cause heart failure and sudden death if not treated urgently.

Since Ayda’s recovery, her medical team discovered that the growth plates at the top of her shins were 90% destroyed when she fell ill.

Her lower legs were only marginally growing, and were becoming increasingly twisted.

In 2014, Ayda underwent surgery to kill off the remaining part of her growth plates in order to reduce the degree of deformity. However this means that her lower legs will no longer grow.

Ayda is now a patient of the Orthopaedic & Limb Reconstruction ward at Princess Margaret Hospital. Vikki and Jonno are currently considering a longer term treatment plan that involves Ayda’s legs being surgically fractured and Ilizarov frames being connected to the fractures which will hopefully result in lengthening of the limb by three to four centimetres over time.

Whilst the thought of Ayda’s impending surgery is of grave concern to Vikki and Jonno, it is nothing in comparison to nearly losing her a few years ago.

“Nearly losing Ayda was the worst thing in the world. Short legs are a walk in the park after that. Sometimes we feel sad that she will have to deal with looking different and may not be able to do some physical activities. But then we consider what might have been and we focus on our philosophy of ‘you get what you get and you don’t get upset’. The fact is, we still have Ayda and that’s what’s truly important,” Vicki explains.

Ayda (far right) with Vicki and Jono and brother and sister

Ayda (far right) with Vikki and Jono and brother Tate and sister Zella

Whilst the coming years will involve regular visits to Perth Children’s Hospital, right now Vikki and Jonno are focusing on letting Ayda be the happy, bright, bubbly six year old she is.

When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, Ayda answers, “A vet on Monday, a hairdresser on Tuesday, a makeup girl on Wednesday and a shop owner on Thursday!”

We’re not quite sure what Friday through to Sunday has in store. Perhaps that will be indulging in one of her favourite things such as reading, beading, swimming, and enjoying the great open space of her Grandparent’s farm in the Wheatbelt,

Vikki and Jono say they have been forever changed by the experience of nearly losing one of their three children.

“There is nothing we can say or do that will fully convey our thanks to all the people involved in saving Ayda’s life,” Jono explains. “We will be forever grateful.”

Join Ayda at the John Hughes Big Walk on Sunday 13 November. Register Now.

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