William’s story

When William was born, he was having trouble breathing and spent three days on an ECMO, without access to this machine, William would have passed away overnight.

During the late stages of Brianna’s labour, the midwives realised something wasn’t right. When baby William arrived he was having trouble breathing and  was intubated and airlifted from Toowoomba to Brisbane.

Initially the doctors didn’t know what was wrong and how they could help William. An ECMO specialist came to help. The Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) service is a life-support technique that takes over the function of the heart and lungs while the body is fighting an illness or injury.

The doctors told parents Brianna and Shane that if they couldn’t get William onto ECMO he would pass away overnight.

William was on ECMO for three days and stayed in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Queensland Children’s Hospital for three weeks.

Mum Brianna recalls how the family coped “We never expected anything like this to happen to us. We were very emotional, sad, horrified that we were potentially saying goodbye to a newborn. Then grateful and lucky that he had this chance to live thanks to ECMO. It was very hard for our family, with two older children – one in school. My partner had to work as he is self-employed. Being separated and only seeing him and the kids once a week was extremely hard for all of us.”

Now two years old, William has physiotherapy once a month, occupational therapy once a month, hearing checks, and neurology check-ups at Queensland Children’s Hospital once a year.

Due to ECMO complications William suffered a stroke to the left side of his brain, doctors weren’t sure if William would be able to crawl, walk and talk but he defied all the odds against him. William is thriving at home, he loves  dinosaurs, music and he absolutely loves being outdoors playing on his scooter.

The Children’s Hospital Foundation has proudly supported the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Service at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, through the purchase of pumps and monitors.

Story written and details correct June 2019

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