James Ackerman's daughter in hospital battle
THE family of former Sunshine Coast Falcons prop James Ackerman is once again showing its incredible resilience.
Still dealing with James' death as a result of a tackle during a rugby league game last June, the family finds itself back in a hospital ward as James' daughter Milly battles a bout of pneumonia.
"When's Moo Moo coming home?" her brother, Ollie, asks as he prepares to graduate from pre-school.
Milly was rushed from Nambour Hospital to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital on Sunday morning for three-hour emergency surgery to remove a 4cm abscess from her lungs while 350ml of fluid was drained from the little fighter's lungs after she deteriorated rapidly on Saturday.
Milly's thankfully expected to recover, but her aunty, Kaylene Hart, said the family was preparing for the prospect of spending Christmas in hospital, with her recovery expected to take a number of weeks.
She spent a few days in the intensive care unit before being transferred to the ward, but is still on oxygen assistance to breathe and in immense pain with two tubes through her ribcage to drain the fluid.
She's on heavy painkillers and antibiotics and Kaylene said the family was now focused on trying to have the little girl home for Christmas.
"Only one lung is functioning at the moment," Kaylene said.
"It just got her so quickly."
She said doctors had told the family they were lucky to have gotten Milly into surgery when they did as her condition worsened.
Milly's mum, Saraa, hasn't left her daughter's side since last week.
"She's (Saraa) such a trooper, she got that from James," Kaylene said.
"I'm so proud of her."
James' mother, Sonya, is staying at Ronald McDonald House, while James' father Michael and Milly's uncles have been taking turns caring for Ollie and making the trip to South Brisbane to spend time with Milly as she recuperates.
Kaylene was hopeful one of the tubes would be removed today, with doctors eager to get her moving a bit more to try and free up more of the fluid on her lungs.
She said the health scare was bringing back still-raw memories for the family of when James died, with things like life support machines triggering flashbacks.
"It's like going through losing James all over again," Kaylene said.
She said Ollie and Milly were "petrified" of ambulances and hospitals, remembering losing their dad, but praised the staff of Nambour and Lady Cilento hospitals for their efforts to make things as comfortable as possible.
"Everyone has been absolutely amazing," Kaylene said, expressing the family's gratitude at the support shown.
From other families in Lady Cilento to messages of support to Milly on the Support For Ackers #8 Facebook page, Kaylene said they'd been amazed once again at James' legacy and the amount of love shown for the family.
She said they were living by one of James' favourite mottos, that there was always someone worse off, as they waited for Milly's health to improve.
To leave Milly a get-well message go to Support for Ackers #8 on Facebook. Kaylene said the messages would be read to the little girl to keep her spirits up over the coming weeks.