Little Georgia is a born survivor and has already taken on many battles in her three short years. Georgia came into the world unexpectedly and prematurely at 25 weeks – some 15 weeks earlier than the usual 40-week pregnancy. At this early stage, a baby’s lungs are not fully formed, and Georgia’s little body struggled to draw a breath.
Georgia urgently needed expert care, and at six weeks old she was sent to The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), where she spent the first nine months of her life attached to a ventilator in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“When Georgia was a baby in the NICU was one of the sickest children in the hospital,” said Dr Sarah Morrison Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon at the RCH. “She would experience periods of time where she would stop breathing.”
Georgia’s medical teams worked around the clock to care for her little body, with the hope to get her strong enough to breathe on her own.
The only option for Georgia to come off the ventilator was to undergo a tracheostomy which involved creating an opening in her neck and placing a tube in her windpipe so air could enter her lungs.
Thanks to this lifesaving surgery, Georgia was able to head home for the very first time. However, she still needed specialised care around the clock, including repeated suctioning to keep her airways clear.
Luckily for Georgia, she was cared for by the RCH’s Wallaby Ward, also known as the Hospital in the Home program, where patients like Georgia are cared for by a team of medical and allied health professionals in the comfort of their own environment.
Georgia’s parents, Ivy and Greg shared how grateful they were for the Wallaby Ward Team in both caring for Georgia as well as supporting them both, “We got the carers, and they really gave us a break and then we got social workers. They would just be on the phone with us all the time to say, ‘What do you need?’”, said Ivy.
As Georgia thrived at home, the family began to look forward in hope of a chance for Georgia to breathe without her trachea. In order to give Georgia the best chance to live without breathing apparatus, she needed to have an airway reconstruction.
At two years old, Georgia underwent this specialised procedure which involved using cartilage grafts from Georgia’s rib and bonding them within her neck to allow her airways to remain open. One of the grafts worked, but unfortunately one would not take.
“Her airway is significantly better than what it was prior to her airway reconstruction, but it’s just not enough for her right now so she needs further surgery to get her to the point where we can remove the breathing tube,” explained Dr Sarah Morrison.
Despite the challenges, Georgia is now a cheeky and bright three year old, and but she still has a long journey ahead of her. She continues to receive care through the Wallaby Ward at home with the hope that as she grows and her airway widens, she can have the surgeries needed to improve her complex condition.
“I cannot speak highly enough of all the support that we’ve received from the RCH, it’s just been amazing. Every day, my wife and I count our blessings that we’re lucky enough to live in a city which has such a world-class paediatric facility and such wonderful people working there,” said Greg.
“We wish no child has to go through the journey we’ve gone through, but for children like Georgia, if you can help and donate, you’re giving them the best chance in life,” said Ivy.
Georgia would not be here without the life-saving treatment of the RCH.
Please consider making a donation to ensure sick children like Georgia and her family continue to receive this vital care they so desperately rely on.