Zander’s story

The arrival of Zander at 28 weeks brought both joy and fear for his parents Amy and Chris, and big sister Paige.

Not long after Zander was due to be born – just before term when he was almost three months old – he developed issues including vomiting and refusing to feed, and was looked after by the doctors and nurses at Bundaberg Hospital. He was fed through a nasogastric feeding tube but at 11 months old, his condition deteriorated.

Zander was transferred from Bundaberg Hospital to Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, where he was treated for severe malnourishment. He was in hospital in Brisbane for two weeks, before little Zander was well enough to go back to Bundaberg Hospital.

Just weeks later, Zander was sent back to Queensland Children’s Hospital. This time the stay was much longer – four months, including his first birthday and first Christmas.

“It was a very scary time for us not knowing why our baby was not thriving like he should have been,” Amy recalled.

“We have all struggled a lot with our family being separated. Chris needed to stay in Bundaberg for work and to look after Paige.”

While at Lady Cilento the second time, Zander was placed on parental nutrition – the method of getting nutritional products into his tiny body by intravenous. This allowed Zander to eventually go home, and for their family to be together again.

Zander, who is now 3 ½, had a jejunostomy feeding button inserted in May last year.

“This has allowed him to tolerate a higher rate of his milk feed, which allowed him to stop parental nutrition feeds,” Amy explained.

“This has made life a lot easier for all of us and means Zander is able to spend more time at home.”

Zander’s family describe him as “happy and easygoing”. He is connected to his feeding pump at all times, but he does not let that stop him playing with his sister, and his friends at kindergarten, watching his favourite The Wiggles performer Emma, playing Lego, and going camping and fishing with his family. He has also been working hard in speech therapy sessions and is now able to speak much more fluently and even spell his name.

Zander’s many hospital visits – both at Bundaberg and Queensland Children’s Hospital – often happen at short notice, which puts a lot of pressure on the family, especially when they are separated for long periods of time.

But, Amy recalled some of the wonders that happen in hospital, which helped her family and many others through what was the most difficult of times.

“When Zander was young we used the Steggles Cuddle Carers at Queensland Children’s Hospital regularly, and this allowed Zander to be content while I ducked out to get a coffee or have a shower,” she said.

“As Zander got older he has used a variety of hospital services such as music therapy, pet therapy and bedside play which provide a much-welcomed distraction from his pain, discomfort and boredom.

“Zander’s first Christmas was spent at Queensland Children’s Hospital, and all of the staff and volunteers went above and beyond to make the day as special and enjoyable as possible for our whole family.”

Zander is one of 19 ambassadors for the Woolworths Regional Wall Tokens campaign.

By purchasing a $2 wall token from now until the end of September, you are helping fund equipment and programs in your local hospital, which help families like Zander’s through an emotional, stressful, and at times uncertain journey.

Woolworths Regional Wall Tokens is an opportunity to highlight some of the brave kids throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales, who you can help by purchasing a wall token.

Other ways you can help

Everything we do for sick and injured kids is made possible by the generosity and support of our donors, partners and the community.