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May, 2024

Ivy’s Life-Saving Story

From Kindy to facing the unthinkable: Ivy’s harrowing journey began on what seemed like a typical Friday, only to spiral into a nightmare over the weekend. Three-year-old Ivy battled for her life, as her parents faced the dreaded words: “Prepare for the worst.”

It all started innocently enough, with Ivy’s Kindy reporting a case of common Croup. Concerned, her mother, Emily, took Ivy to their local doctor, only to witness her condition deteriorate rapidly. Despite receiving initial treatment, Ivy’s health continued to decline, prompting a visit to Gold Coast University Hospital.

Ivy in the Children’s Critical Care Unit

At the hospital, Ivy was administered adrenaline every 15 minutes but despite being in a stable condition, her body was not responding to the medication. The decision was made to move Ivy to the Children’s Critical Care Unit and an urgent CT scan showed she had developed a life-threatening narrowing of her airway and was rushed to theatre to be intubated and put on a ventilator. On the brink of closing, Ivy’s airway was so tight she needed a same size breathing tube used for new born babies and her medical team required a video laryngoscope (also know as a CMAC) to insert the tube quickly and safely. This equipment is often used with difficult intubation situations, and this time it was a critical piece of equipment, thankfully donated by the Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, as without it, the outcome for Ivy may have been very different.

The vital equipment that helped to save Ivy’s life, a Video Laryngoscope (also known as a CMAC) and the High-Frequency Oscillatory Ventilator (HFOV) – used only in critical situations.

With air now getting to her lungs, Ivy was again stable, continuing to have her regular check-ups every two hours, but unimaginably the worst was still yet to come. Every parent’s nightmare unfolded again before Emily and her husband’s eyes when Ivy had bronchospasm, where the airways become extremely narrow, making it difficult to get air in (and out) of the lungs. The Children’s Critical Care team flew into action, requiring a multidepartment resuscitation response along with the anaesthetic department and the Adult ICU to save Ivy’s life.

At this point, Emily and her husband were removed from Ivy’s room, their hearts wrenching as they watched on hopelessly. Ivy was getting minimal oxygen and the team needed to work fast. She was so critical she could not be moved or taken to theatre; whatever lifesaving care needed to happen had to happen right there in her room.

This is when Emily and her husband were told heartbreaking news “You need to prepare for the worst, this is not looking good”.  They are words Emily says no parent should ever have to hear. Feeling completely helpless, Emily put all her trust into the medical health teams at Gold Coast University Hospital.

As the medical teams did everything they could to reinflate Ivy’s lungs, Emily could see they were as concerned for Ivy as she was, and knew they had a determined and vested interest in saving Ivy’s life. A small solace Emily clung to.

Ivy in the hospital after waking from her coma.

Terrifyingly, Ivy continued to have episodes of bronchospasm, again making it extremely difficult to deliver oxygen, putting pressure on the team to help her survive. After what seemed to her parents like a lifetime, the team eventually got both of Ivy’s lungs reinflated and she was placed on a High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilator (HFOV) – an Advanced Ventilator used only in critical situations, a ventilator that had been donated by Gold Coast Hospital Foundation. Ivy was also given specialised inhaled gas, an emergency chest drain and medication infusions to support her blood pressure.

Ivy’s tiny body was now completely fatigued. To help her recover, Ivy was put into an induced coma. Days passed as Emily and her husband sat by Ivy’s bed, shellshocked, while senior medical teams watched over her fighting to stabilise and heal. Their next concern was discovering whether Ivy had sustained any prolonged damage to her brain from the lack of oxygen. A CT scan produced positive results, showing no damage had occurred, much to the relief of her parents and her incredible medical team.

Ivy was determined to wake from her coma, and to her parents’ relief opened her eyes. A few days passed and her parents encouraged her to get up, but exhausted from her ordeal, Ivy’s little legs felt like jelly. It wasn’t until The Gold Coast Hospital Foundations Giving Day last year that Emily encouraged Ivy to walk down to see what was happening, telling her about the exciting things outside she could see. The Giving Day festivities sparked an interest in Ivy, and she agreed, walking for the first time since being admitted to hospital.

Ivy playing a game at our 2023 Giving Day on the first day she got out of bed and Ivy with her unicorn balloon finally walking and leaving the hospital to go home.

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Giving Day, our biggest fundraiser of the year is on Wednesday the 15th of May. Your donation has the power to make a difference to local Gold Coast patients, just like Ivy. Please donate now.

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