Farewell Professor Rod Hunt

For over 20 years, Professor Rod Hunt has been dedicated to delivering the best care to some of Australia’s tiniest and most vulnerable babies at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). An accomplished researcher and neonatologist, for the past 10 years Rod has led the Butterfly Ward, the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the RCH.

As he prepares to farewell the RCH to take up an Academic Chair, he leaves behind a truly remarkable legacy of innovation, change and thoughtful leadership, and is definitive when he says these achievements have been thanks to the heartfelt support of others.

“Without a doubt, many of the great things that we have been able to achieve together on the Butterfly Ward have been the result of philanthropy. Government funding ensures the NICU remains operational, however, it’s philanthropy and incredible giving that has enabled many breakthroughs in patient care.  It has allowed us to purchase specialised equipment that is unique to the RCH, employ staff into specific roles and undertake research projects,” Rod said.

Rod has long been a champion of philanthropy across the Melbourne Children’s Campus, and has personally influenced a lot of giving over his many years on the neonatal intensive care unit. Many families are passionate supporters of the hospital because of the care they have received at the RCH.

“It has been the greatest privilege to look after some incredibly sick babies and their families during one of the most difficult times of their lives. It has been what motivates me to achieve excellence in my work,” Rod said.

“For those families to then want to give something back is always incredibly humbling. People’s generosity has been amazing. It’s not about the amount of money, it’s that out of this incredible adversity, people feel grateful and go out of their way to give something back.”

“For that very reason, whenever I was asked if I would attend a fundraising event I was always happy to, or asked to give a tour of the NICU; to be able to show someone through the unit, to showcase the amazing work of the unit – this provided the vehicle for people to be able to give back and invest in the future of Victoria.”

Sue Hunt, Chief Executive Officer, the RCH Foundation thanked Rod for his dedication and commitment to providing critically ill babies with the very best care. It is thanks to this care that patients and their families choose to support the RCH.

“I am in awe of the resilience and devotion of our patient families. Through some of the toughest times in their lives, they choose to give back to our hospital and express their heartfelt thanks for the care they have received under Rod’s leadership. It is truly humbling,” said Sue.

Through her role as Philanthropy Executive at the RCH Foundation Donna Aranyi has worked alongside Rod in his philanthropic efforts for the past 15 years, helping foster relationships and coordinate major fundraising events such as the ‘A Celebration of Life’ Gala Ball and Opera in the Roses events.

“Rod, like his predecessors in the NICU, was a dedicated and passionate advocate for philanthropy at the RCH. Rod recognised and acknowledged that patients and families, who had an experience in the NICU, would often choose to express gratitude for this care by making a philanthropic donation to support projects, current and emerging, that would improve outcomes for the sickest babies,” Donna said.

Throughout his time at RCH, Rod was driven to constantly seek new ways to deliver better care for patients and their families. Funds raised in support of the NICU have not only propelled clinical care forward but improved the experience for families.

“Recently we’ve been able to purchase new high quality, comfortable chairs for all rooms in NICU.  It may seem like a small thing but some parents are almost living on these chairs for weeks to months.  We want to provide an environment where we are encouraging families to be engaged and connect with their babies, ultimately improving the quality of outcomes and getting them home faster,” Rod said.

Philanthropic support from families, community groups and businesses also enabled a milestone achievement through the ongoing development of the COCOON (Circle of Care Optimising Outcomes for Newborns) Program on the Butterfly Ward.  This new model of care encourages families to engage in their babies’ care more meaningfully whilst in the NICU.

“We expect that this will reduce the time babies spend in the NICU and will ultimately mean that parents will leave Butterfly feeling confident that they can care for their babies – and are bonded as a family”.

There are a number of ways you can support vulnerable babies and their families on the NICU. To learn more about the COCOON Program, or how you can sponsor a bed, please contact Donna Aranya, Philanthopy Executive via [email protected]



Messages of thanks:

Miraglia Family

Rod you are a brilliant doctor but to us you are first and foremost a kind, compassionate and funny man who has been by our side not only during some of our darkest and scariest times at the RCH but also for some very happy and memorable ones. We are forever grateful for all you and the RCH NICU team have done for Luca and also for supporting our fundraisers – your warmth and humility captures the hearts of everyone who hears you speak. You are a big reason behind our NICU bed sponsorship, a tradition we plan to continue.

Judy Hooper

There are thousands of children alive today because of the wonderful care they received under the leadership and guidance of Professor Rod Hunt, Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). As the mother of an intensive care baby I feel eternally grateful and was inspired to create Opera in the Roses an annual fundraising event at Cruden Farm, the home of our loved late Patron Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in support of NICU. I will always remember you showing me through NICU and the amazing work of the unit.

Thank you for your wonderful support of Opera in the Roses, you spoke so movingly to our guests who were in awe of your work in the Butterfly Ward at the RCH. Congratulations on your appointment!!

Trish and John Cerini

Rod, you have been a crucial and important part of Jay Kirkwood, our grandsons life, during his early health & developmental years and we wanted to say thank you so much – Lauren always spoke so highly of you and was so thankful of having your contact details in the days when she really needed support. Jay is now 16 years old, turning 17 this coming February, and is the happiest most loved boy, with the biggest smile ever!