‘A Celebration of Life’ – supporting the work of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital

I am delighted to inform you that Andrea and I are sponsoring a cot in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). We attended the “Celebration of Life” Gala Ball at Crown Palladium last Thursday and met Dr Rod Hunt, who is the Associate Professor and Director of Neonatal Medicine at RCH. He leads NICU and the team in the Butterfly Ward where they provide highly specialised care to the youngest and sickest newborn infants from all over Australia and the Pacific Islands. When we were made aware of the need for additional cots in the NICU we were delighted to be able to offer our support.

I fondly remember my time in the 1990’s while training in Plastic Surgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital. It was a wonderful privilege to be able to help look after these children. Now when I go to the RCH it’s with one of my 3 children for the occasional medical appointment, and while the hospital has grown amazingly the exceptional care and kindness remains the same.

Last Thursday night we heard Kate and Scott tell us about their newborn son Harrison.

‘Our beautiful boy Harrison David Nugent entered the world on September 28th last year. At nearly one year of age, he is a big, strong boy who can crawl and stand, and will walk very soon. But in the early days, it was very much touch-and-go.

Harrison had difficulty breathing from the moment he was born. He couldn’t breast feed without turning blue. On his very first night, he was transferred to the Austin’s NICU once it had become clear how serious his condition was. Within a week, our beautiful boy was taken to the RCH Butterfly Ward.

He was diagnosed with Pyriform Aperture Stenosis, a very rare congenital anomaly where the anterior opening of the nose is not wide enough to pass air. As newborns are nasal breathers until the age of six months, this condition posed a serious risk to Harrison’s life.

He underwent two operations. Even then, the effort needed for him to breathe took a big toll on his body, and he couldn’t keep his weight up. He ended up staying in the Butterfly Ward for two months. Two weeks after that, he was finally discharged.

Harrison also suffered from central apnoea’s, an unrelated developmental condition that caused him to hold his breath for short periods of time whilst he was sleeping. Consequently, Harrison was put on oxygen during his stay at RCH to make sure no harm was done during these episodes. Without these extra tests, this would most likely have gone unnoticed at home. The outcome could have been fatal.

Our family has the highest respect for the RCH, and all the doctors and nurses who work there. Without their help and professionalism, our little boy would not be he happy, energetic and vibrant boy he is today.’

I offer my congratulations and appreciation to Catherine Cervasio, Chair of the Event Committee and her fundraising team in all that they do to raise awareness and funding.

Dr Chris Moss