Concerned about the deteriorating health of her son Archer, mum Katelyn Galea drove immediately to hospital, saving her young son from dying.
Concerned about the deteriorating health of her son Archer, mum Katelyn Galea drove immediately to hospital, saving her young son from dying.

‘He was completely limp’: Mum's instinct saves her son

Archer Roberts' surgery count is well into double figures - and he's just four years old.

He has lost the tips of his fingers and toes, had multiple skin grafts and had two fingers amputated.

It's the cost of fighting off the deadly meningococcal disease.

Mum Katelyn Galea recalls the morning she took her then five-month-old son, Archer to the GP who diagnosed him with a possible ear infection.

By afternoon, Archer still had a fever and hadn't eaten. Then she noticed his lips had turned a bight purple colour.

Baby Archer in the hospital with meningococcal.
Baby Archer in the hospital with meningococcal.

"I ran and got Josh, who was outside but by the time we got back Archer's lips were normal and I was thinking did I see it or did I not see it," Katelyn recalls.

 

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Their GP had said to come back if Archer hadn't got better so they were in the car on the way when Katleyn noticed his lips turn purple again.

She ran the GP who told her to call an ambulance, but when the ambulance wanted them to pull over and wait the couple made the decision to keep driving to Ipswich Hospital.

"Thank God we didn't pull over because if we waited for the ambulance we would not have him. It was that touch and go," Katelyn says. Ipswich Hospital was expecting them - as well as calling from the car, the GP had also called.

"When I pulled him out of his car seat he was completely limp," Katelyn recalls.

Archer was rushed through the packed waiting room and placed out on a bed.

"They cut his clothes off and there were dark purple spots on his chest and straight away I knew it was bad."

Katelyn called her mum but her mobile phone dropped out. When her mum rang back, a nurse took the call.

"She said we don't think your grandson is going to survive. Can you make it to Ipswich Emergency?."

Josh was still parking the car.

"I called Josh and I was screaming. He says he couldn't understand me but he knew it was really bad."

Archer Roberts with mum, Katelyn and sister Leni, 4 months. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Archer Roberts with mum, Katelyn and sister Leni, 4 months. Picture: Mark Cranitch

Archer was placed on life support. Doctors gave him a 15 per cent chance of survival and he was transferred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Queensland children's Hospital where he was tested for meningococcal.

He was on life support for 10 days. Afterwards he was covered in blisters and his skin was peeling off. His fingers and toes had gone necrotic and were in the process of falling off.

"They were really sensitive. Even if you bumped them by accident he would scream and scream.," Katelyn says.

Archer's last trip to the hospital was just a few weeks ago to fix his back teeth which were damaged by the medications he was given to save his life.

His next op will be to put plates in his ankles which will leave him in full plaster for six weeks.

Archer Roberts today. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Archer Roberts today. Picture: Mark Cranitch

Katelyn says she is grateful for the support from the hospital and from the volunteers who would come and sit with them.

"Sometimes your family can't help you because they are going through the same thing," Katelyn says.

"You need someone to really give you that strength and they would come in and check on us and chat, even if it was just about what we planned to do next year or holidays we had been on something that takes your memory away from the hospital for that little bit of time."

***

Holly Jackson is like most five-year-olds. She loves being outside, playing on the swings, building with LEGO, watching themovie Frozen and blowing bubbles.

She loves life.

The Gold Coast youngster was also born with an extremely rare heart disease, diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart complex - one of the most severe heart conditions a baby can have where the left side of the heart is not fully formed - before shewas born.

Holly Jackson today. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Holly Jackson today. Picture: Mark Cranitch

It was picked up on a routine scan at 21 weeks and confirmed when she was 25-weeks in utero marking the start of what mumTamara describes as a "rollercoaster ride and a half" that isn't over yet.

"It was borderline if Holly was going to could have two ventricles or a single ventricle and it would not be until birth thatwe would know which way she would go," Tamara remembers.

"It was hard. We (Tamara and her husband Simon) did not know what to prepare for. We put a cot in the room but we did not know if we were going to bring a baby home."

As soon as Holly was born, she had several scans to assess her condition. When she was two days old, her heart crashed andshe required five minutes of CPR.

She remained in hospital for 125 days while she fought the life-threatening heart condition and underwent two open heart operations.

Holly Jackson at 20 months in hospital, after open-heart surgery.
Holly Jackson at 20 months in hospital, after open-heart surgery.

Last year, Holly had a third operation and spent another four weeks in hospital.

It has improved her lung capacity from 60 to 70 per cent to 90 per cent.

"She could not jump before her heart surgery and now she is jumping like crazy and running around and that is how we explained it to her," Tamara says.

"We said the doctors are going to help your heart so you can run with your friends.

"Holly just thinks the doctors have fixed her heart but there is no fix.

"She will always be checked up on; is on medication for life and she will need more surgeries.

"We hope she won't need a heart transplant but that is always a possibility.

"But at the moment she is doing brilliantly and we have to take that as a blessing."

Tamara is grateful not just for the medical staff who cared for Holly, but the volunteers who came to play with her daughter.

Holly Jackson and her parents Simon and Tamara. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Holly Jackson and her parents Simon and Tamara. Picture: Mark Cranitch

"They would bring in a trolley full of toys and say would you like to play," Tamara remembers. "To see the smile on her facewas amazing. They (the patients) get sick of mum and dad and it makes us feel like someone cares; that there are people whoare looking out for us, making sure the kids are okay and making the days better." As for the therapy dogs: "That's what got Holly out of bed a few times. She wouldn't get out of bed for me but if there's a dog...."

***

For the cost of half a cup of coffee, it's possible to help save and improve the lives of our sick kids.

Over the past 34 years,Woolworths has worked closely with the Children's Hospital Foundation and thanks to this partnership has achieved incredible outcomes for children.

A combination of customers buying hundreds of thousands of $2 wall tokens and the Woolworths team's in-store raffles has added up to a cash injection of more than $60 million. This has paid for state-of-the-art equipment; funded cutting-edge research; helped develop lifesaving tests and made a stay in hospital a little less scary for young patients and their families.

Children's Hospital Foundation logo.
Children's Hospital Foundation logo.

Children's Hospital Foundation CEO Rosie Simpson says a $2 donation at the checkout can have a big impact.

Two dollar donations, for example, helped buy $1.7 million 3D surgical navigation technology that allows surgeons to getclear margins around cancerous bone tumours.

"The precision provided by this technology can potentially save a child's limb and avoid them needing a prostheses for therest of their lives," Ms Simpson says.

Two dollars also helps fund the Woolworths Centre for Childhood Nutrition Research. A current study is looking at a possible link between a protein delivered into the gut by hookworms and the prevention of auto-immune disease.

"The scientific community has been trying to find a link between what goes on in the gut and auto immune disease for sometime and this is quite promising research in Queensland," Ms Simpson says. "It is very innovative and quite cutting edge."

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci.

These donations also helped the Queensland researchers develop a rapid diagnostic test for the potentially deadly meningococcaldisease. The test cut down diagnosis time from days to one hour.

"Meningococcal disease can be deadly if not treated quickly and a fast diagnosis can be life-saving. And that is what $2 at a checkout has delivered - a Queensland first, world-leading diagnostic test that now saves lives."

Those Woolworths tokens also put a smile on the faces of sick children and their families.

They help pay for the Patient Entertainment System - screens tailored to individual patients to entertain and distract them between appointments and operations - as well as play equipment and therapy dogs.

"It allows kids to just be kids," Ms Simpson says.

"And it gives mums and dads a break so they can have a coffee or have a shower."

Woolworths customers can make a donation to the foundation at any time using the donation button on all registers.

 

Originally published as 'He was completely limp' - how a mother's instinct saved her son



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