When flu-like symptoms turned into Cardiac Myopathy, 11 year old Hannah and her mother Kristy were urgently airlifted to Westmead Hospital, beginning a year-long journey of specialists, hospitals and finally a heart transplant.
“Hannah had a virus attacking her heart, so as you can imagine she was very, very sick. Her organs were starting to shut down. We stayed at Westmead for three and a half months,” said Kristy.
During that time, Kristy and her family were able to stay at Ronald McDonald House so they could rest and support each other, and be there for Hannah. Kristy believes the volunteers who worked at the House helped her to cope with the seriousness of Hannah’s illness. “Volunteers are a one-of-a-kind people. Absolutely amazing, beautiful people. They were there for me when I had no one else to talk to. The whole charity has been an amazing support. From the volunteers and staff, through to the other families that you meet,” she said.
Hannah was then flown to Melbourne, where she had a Ventrical Assistance Device (VAD) inserted while she waited for the donation of a heart. By that time she was at End Stage Heart Failure, The VAD worked as a mechanical pump, keeping the blood flowing around the heart and organs. Hannah didn’t wait long, and is now 9 months post transplant.
After another three month stay at Ronald McDonald House Parkville in Melbourne, Hannah and her family finally returned home to Armidale. “We now have ongoing check-ups and rehab for nerve damage sustained during surgery,” said Kristy. “We’ve been through a lot, but I have her with me, and that’s the most important thing.”