Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Paean to the RCH

Its roughly a year since Michael came home from his three weeks at the Royal Childrens Hospital. I havent recorded here why he was there, so I'll do that briefly.

Michael was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries, which means the aorta and pulmonary artery are reversed. The aorta normally takes red (oxygenated) blood from the heart around the body. The pulmonary normally takes blue blood to the lungs to be re-oxygenated. In Michael the red blood circulated from the heart to the lungs continuously, while the blue blood was pumped around the body again and again, progessively reducing in oxygen. A few hours after he was born, a midwife at the Royal Hobart Hospital noticed his bluish skin, and did some tests to determine the cause. About seven hours later he, Elf and I were at the Royal Childrens Hospital in Melbourne.

We can't really express our gratitude in words, to the RHH, the RCH, and the Tasmanian State Government's medical emergency procedures. Also to our mums who teamed up to look after Marcus for two weeks until I could fly home.

The prompt action at RHH saved Michael's life. The State Government pays for evacuation, medical treatment and accommodation of anyone who has a medical condition that can't be treated within Tasmania. We had no idea this existed until we needed it. A man called Terry who works in a tiny office in the bowels of RHH organised Michael's transfer by air ambulance, seats on a commercial flight for Elf and I, and our accommodation. We did not have to worry about any of those details, which was great as our worry brain cells were fully occupied.

Michael had a temporary operation immediately that allowed some mixing of red and blue blood to happen in his heart. This bought some time until the "arterial switch" could be performed. We thought it would be done straight away, but for a variety of reasons we had 5 days of nervous waiting. The operation was a success. It was a difficult day for us - we ran out of ways to occupy ourselves, and ended up walking in circles around Parkville waiting for the mobile phone to ring.

Michael spent several days in ICU after his initial minor op, and another stint after his major op. A year on I think of the other children who were in ICU at the time and hope they have had successful outcomes like Michael.

The RCH is regarded worldwide as one of the best children's hospitals. People who can afford to, send their children there from Japan, Singapore, the Middle East. We were asked to pay just $75 towards the costs of Michael's treatment, our flights and accomodation. The RCH is a marvellous thing to have in our region. People (including Tasmanians) who say that we have poor facilities or that we are remote and unloved, should remember that if the worst happens with your kid, they can be at the RCH in two hours getting world class treatment.


Wendy said...

Wow, I can't even imagine! At least the medical stuff we do isn't acutely life threatening. Whew.

Michael is such a gem. I'm glad they did a good job for him. Our children's hospital is awesome, too. I think people who work with children in that way are pretty special folks.

Thanks for sharing your story! :)

chris.dadness said...

Thanks for reading it! Yes, Michael has so much spark we sometimes wonder if somewhere deep down he has some kind of primal urge saying "live life to the full! don't waste a minute! you are lucky to be here so give it everything!"

I think children's hospitals are literally awesome. Wonder and admiration mixed with fear and a sense of your own deep ignorance about things.