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Northern NSW : Winter 2011
Thomas’ story was contributed by his mother Michelle Newman, a proud supporter of the Service and the John Hunter Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit. The Newman’s were keen to tell their story to others to create awareness of the life saving work of those involved not only with the Service but also, the NICU, at the recent Saving Babies Golf Day held in the Hunter. When my husband Mark and I moved to Port Macquarie from Sydney just over two years ago to start a family we didn’t give any thought to the fact that we were moving away from large tertiary hospitals and specialist medical care. We learnt just how valuable the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service is in March 2010 when our son Thomas became seriously ill, he was three weeks old. Within a day Thomas lost his appetite, became lethargic and his belly was swelling up. We took him straight to the Emergency Department at Por t Macquarie Base Hospital. The on- call paediatrician told us he needed specialist care at a larger hospital, and he needed it immediately. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Newborn Emergency Transport Service was called in to transport Thomas to the John Hunter Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for treatment. Once he was stabilised and x-rays were taken Thomas was strapped into a special little crib and they popped some tiny yellow ear muffs on him ready for the flight. Watching our baby wheeled out of the room was the most hear t wrenching moment of our lives and from inside the hospital we heard the helicopter power up and then the engine fade into the distance. While we were absolutely devastated, we were also comforted by the knowledge that he was in the very best of hands and on his way to getting the specialist care he so desperately needed. We drove down to John Hunter overnight and arrived to find him resting comfortably in NICU, where he spent the next few days. Thomas was diagnosed with a congenital ner ve problem in his abdomen that had caused him to get very sick very quickly. Once the immediate danger had passed, we were lucky enough to be given a bed in maternity so I co uld sleep by his side and visit NICU for his treatments and check ups. Thomas spent a week in hospital and then when he was 10 weeks old we stayed another week in the Paediatric Ward while he had corrective surgery. Because of the swiftness of his treatment, Thomas was able to make a full recovery and is now a healthy, cheeky, 13-month-old with his whole life ahead of him. We are so grateful for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, NETS and NICU services and encourage everyone to suppor t them in any way you can. You just never know when you or someone you love will need their help. Rescue club: Thomas’ Story Thomas was one of more than 1000 children admitted to John Hunter Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) each year. The NICU provides state-of- the-art, specialty care to newborns with a wide range of conditions and has 17 intensive care and 24 special care beds. The NICU and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service have such a special relationship they share the proceeds from the Annual Saving babies Golf Day, which this year raised more than $40,000. Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service - Rescue Winter 2011 Page 3