Eight month old Ella has spent more time at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) than she has at her home in Leopold. And while mum Monique wishes her baby girl was in her own bed, she knows her daughter is receiving the best care possible at the RCH.
Second time parents Monique and Chris were thrilled when they found out they were having another baby and were excited to give their daughter Maeve a new best friend.
Then, at their 21 week scan, Monique heard the words no parent wants to hear – something wasn’t right.
“They told me they found a couple of defects, and that we had to go for another scan at The Royal Women’s Hospital. At the second scan, I could see that the technician kept going back to her heart. When they told me they were going to step out and get the doctor, I called Chris and said, ‘Something is wrong – they keep going back to her heart,’” Monique said.
Ella was diagnosed with three heart defects – pulmonary atresia, a ventricular septal defect (VSD), and major aortopulmonary collateral arteries (MAPCAs). Monique was heartbroken.
“No one prepares you for finding out your child has something wrong with them, let alone something wrong with their heart.”
Thankfully the rest of Monique’s pregnancy went smoothly and on February 12, Ella was born. She was transported to the RCH where she spent a day in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) before being admitted to the Koala Ward, the hospital’s dedicated cardiac ward.
At just three weeks old, Ella had her first heart surgery.
“Her surgery went really well. She had a decent recovery and we spent four weeks in the hospital before we were able to go home,” said Monique.
But that didn’t last. Just a few months after she arrived home, Ella started deteriorating.
“She was tired and wasn’t really feeding. We went back to the RCH and her clinicians quickly figured out that she needed another surgery because her heart was enlarged.”
Again, the surgery went well but Ella’s little body took a while to recover. She was on Koala for nine weeks. During this time, she was seen by dieticians, physiotherapists and Child Life Therapists, all working towards getting Ella home. In mid August, she was finally discharged.
While there is still a long road ahead for the family, Monique couldn’t speak more highly of the care that Ella has received at the RCH.
“I always say how lucky we are to have the best clinicians in the world at the RCH and operating on our little girl. It blows my mind every single day just how good it is.
“There is so much support from the nurses, the doctors, the surgeons, the Child Life Therapists – every part of it. Our experience has been made so positive thanks to the hospital and the things that philanthropy makes possible,” said Monique.
To contribute to improved outcomes for children, including those with heart conditions, donate to the RCH Foundation donate today.