Clara's remarkable survival to help lifesaving cause
WHEN Clara Winterbotham sees the ocean, she grabs her parents' hands and runs straight for the waves.
The two-year-old battler wants to make a splash and, through her remarkable story of survival shared by her parents Rachael and Lindsey, she will help give other sick children the chance to enjoy the beach.
The South Toowoomba toddler is the face of a campaign raising funds and awareness of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation pump life-support machines which saved her life.
Mrs Winterbotham said Clara's life depended on the ECMO machines when she was born prematurely at 37 weeks after she was diagnosed at 19 weeks with pulmonary artesia with ventricular septal defect.
"When Clara was born, there was no time for cuddles and we only got a brief glimpse of her before she was whisked away," she said.
After two operations at just three-weeks-old to insert a stent, Clara looked to be on her way to recovery when it was discovered she had developed a clot in her femoral artery and had survived two strokes.
She needed open heart surgery which she initially pulled through from, but complications arose soon after.
"The biggest complication was after she had the heart surgery and was put on the ECMO," Mrs Winterbotham said.
"We had to witness her undergoing CPR and we were told to leave the intensive care unit after five minutes because they had to make it sterile and do an internal cardiac massage."
The next time her anxious parents saw her, Clara was attached to the ECMO where she stayed for five days to give her heart a chance to recover.
"That was her life support, it did the work of her heart and her lungs," Mrs Winterbotham said.
"The heart needed time to recover - she wouldn't have made it otherwise."
Clara is continuing her remarkable recovery with her big brother Lindsey by her side every step, the strong bond the siblings formed in hospital growing daily.
It was Lindsey, 6, who first got Clara to smile as he spun on a chair by her hospital bed during her recovery - a sound her parents will never forget.
"They have an extremely close, special relationship," she said.
Now the family want to help raise funds for ECMO machines for Lacy Cilento Children's Hospital with the State Government and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
"Once we heard about the campaign we decided to contribute our time and tell our story because it seems like the right thing to do," Mrs Winterbotham said.
Support at qfes-challenge. everydayhero.do/