Walking into the Emergency Department at the Perth Children’s Hospital with their sick two-year-old daughter Amelia, Brianna and Russell felt…
Born with a perforated bowel and rushed into theatre when just three hours old, Heath’s start to life was a dramatic one.
His parents, Allison and Blake, thought their ordeal was over when surgeons at Princess Margaret Hospital saved Heath’s life with a gruelling five hour surgery and he was placed in an incubator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
While Heath did grow stronger with each passing day, when he was just 18 days old Allison and Blake were given then news that he has cystic fibrosis (CF).
“We were devastated when we were told the news,” explains Allison.
“After the trauma of Heath’s start in life, the last thing we wanted was to be told he has chronic disease for which there is no cure.
“It took us quite a long time to come to terms with Heath’s diagnosis. The first few years were particularly hard. There was so much to learn and take in. We spent a lot of time in PMH with Heath. His life, and ours, became all about tablets, physio and nebulisers to clear his lungs and help him breathe easier.
“Even today, whenever Heath picks up an infection or cold, he needs to be admitted to hospital for a few weeks to receive intravenous antibiotics. They have to be strong to help him beat the infection, so he often feels pretty lousy for a few days.
“Heath is now six. Over the years we have all learnt to manage his CF better. But we are always on super high alert during the winter months and try to avoid anyone who has a cold or flu, which is pretty difficult if you want to live any sort of life. But still Heath gets sick every winter, which is always really worrying as we wonder how much his body can take at times. We really depend on Heath’s team at PMH to help him, and us, get through.
“I am so thankful that Heath has a great team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other support staff at PMH to help him. As well as saving his life when he was a baby, they are there to help him as he is growing up.
“I am also really grateful that Foundation donors provide so many much needed donations to support PMH and the research being done there to find better ways to treat diseases like CF and, hopefully, one day find a cure.”