Seanna’s story

Seanna loves life. She has the strongest spirit and dances to her own beat like no one is watching. This truly inspirational young lady lights up a room and gives no indication of what she’s been through and how difficult her life can be.

Like many parents, Seanna’s mum and dad, Crystal and Ernest were feeding 11-week-old Seanna a mixture of breast and formula milk.  It had been introduced to Seanna from an early age and there had been no issues, until one day everything changed.  Having been fed a bottle, Crystal and Ernest put their baby girl down for a nap.  A short time later, feeling something wasn’t quite right, Crystal went to check on Seanna and found her pale and floppy with a red lump the size of 20c just above her eyebrow.  Her face and eyes were swelling up and Crystal knew she had to get to a Doctor. Less than 10 minutes into their journey Crystal realised she could no longer care for her daughter in the car, they pulled over to wait for the ambulance and were rushed to hospital.

It was a very scary time for the family and with anaphylaxis being extremely rare in a child so young treatment was difficult.  To add to the complexity of the situation it was discovered Seanna was paradoxical and biphasic, which meant medication didn’t always work as it should, and secondary reactions could occur at any time.  It took three long days for Seanna’s condition to be stable enough for the family to take her home.

Once home, life would never be the same.  Not knowing what, if, or when something might cause an anaphylactic reaction was terrifying for Crystal and Ernest.

“For her first birthday, I was making her a safe cake when I used some balsamic vinegar which resulted in Seanna having an anaphylactic reaction.  We later found out via the company that it is processed with dairy and egg in the cleaning process” added Crystal.

By age three Seanna had no safe food left and was on complete gut rest and medicated formula.  In these three years, Seanna had experienced many severe allergic reactions, some anaphylactic, and every unwanted side effect you can think of which resulted in having to stop the use of some medications, antibiotics, creams, and soaps.  Even a simple walk outside could be fatal.

Seanna turns eight this year, and the road to get here has been long and tough.  Safe foods could quickly turn unsafe without notice, reactions could present themselves in several different ways and the family has made more trips to the Emergency Department than they care to remember.

What they do remember is the ‘wonderful green team’ – the Children’s Hospital Foundation volunteers.  Queensland Children’s Hospital has unfortunately become almost a second home to Seanna and her family over the years but “the amazing and most wonderful thing is that for all the time that we spend at the hospital, whether it be the ER, on the wards or in the clinics the wonderful green team have been on the journey with us” said Crystal.

“They are who my kids want to see when we come to hospital and actually look forward to coming to see them personally and spend time with the volunteers. They have provided birthday gifts and treats and we have attended many Foundation run activities. They have sent entertainment volunteers up to see us when we are in the day unit or on the wards and are always there to welcome parents, during the super hard times. The green team is also the reward for when we have finished clinic or a yucky test. They make the whole hospital experience a place to look forward to and we often have to come in earlier just to see them. My family cannot fathom where we would be or how our journey would have been if we did not have the wonderful support of the staff and the amazing volunteers. From the bottom of our hearts, our family cannot thank this wonderful group of people enough or the organization behind them”.

Sadly, the journey Seanna and her family are on is unlikely to end.  But Seanna’s family takes their inspiration from her and the fighter she is.  She loves to dance, sing, and entertain and has a spirit that is impossible to ignore.

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