Baby’s cold was sign of something serious
LISA Mann, 35, is a mum-of-four from Queensland and when her youngest baby girl, Davina arrived three years ago, she was a happy and healthy seven-pound newborn.
"She completed our tribe of girls," Lisa said.
Little Davina, or 'D' as she is known to her family was a happy baby until she was around three months old and she started battling a persistent cold.
Davina was often wheezing and seemed clammier than other babies.
"We were always at the doctor," Lisa explained.
Lisa had to take her daughter into the GP regularly to check her breathing and oxygen saturation, but everything seemed fine, she was gaining weight, she was happy and content.
THE WORST NEWS
When Davina was eight months old she was back at the doctor for yet another bout of bronchiolitis, but this time, there was something that seemed 'off' to Lisa.
"Her colour was wrong, she was blue, almost grey" Lisa explained.
Lisa decided to take her daughter to the hospital just to be safe.
"I expected them to say it was just another viral infection," she said.
But things quickly took a turn when a chest x-ray revealed the toddler had an enlarged heart.
At first, Lisa wasn't sure how serious this was, until a cardiac specialist from Lady Cilento hospital was consulted about the results of Davina's chest x-ray and he immediately sent a retrieval team for the little girl. She needed immediate emergency treatment - this was serious.
GOING DOWNHILL FAST
At Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Davina's parents were finally made aware of just how dire her situation really was.
A cardiologist explained that their baby girl was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, and her prognosis was grim. She needed an urgent heart transplant if she had any chance of survival.
"Our world crumbled," Lisa recalled. "We were in complete shock."
Nothing could have prepared the family for the gruelling battle they were all facing, they had gone from thinking Davina had a simple viral infection, to learning she might lose her life, in 24 hours.
The devastated parents had to watch their baby being put into an induced coma to take the pressure off her heart and then they had to find the words to explain to their other three daughters that their little sister might not be coming home.
After two weeks, Davina was brought out of her coma, and she had plenty of fight left in her.
Lisa and her husband made the decision to travel to Melbourne (the only place a transplant like this could be done) and do their best to get Davina the transplant she needed.
"We knew that it might be a long wait, and we knew there were no guarantees that this would work for her," Lisa explained.
But they knew they had to try everything they could.
While they waited for a donor, Davina was fitted with a 'Berlin heart' an external pump device that acts like an artificial heart, it's an incredible lifesaving device, but it has many risks. While Davina was attached to it, she was at high risk of infections, strokes and brain bleeds.
A LIFE OF WAITING
While Davina was awaiting a donor, she was stuck in the hospital. The family had to juggle hospital life and family life for 140 long days before their miracle arrived.
"It wasn't like in the movies," Lisa said, remembering the moment she found out that a donor heart had become available.
"There was no phone call! We had put her down for a sleep and gone to the food court to have some food. When we were walking back in we saw a team of doctors walking towards us."
The parents knew that this was either a very good, or a very bad sign - luckily, it was the best news possible, there was a heart for their girl.
"It was hard not to think about the other family that was right at that moment saying goodbye to their child and giving a new life to mine," Lisa said.
It was a bittersweet moment as they waited for hours while Davina went through her surgery, but after 12 long hours, they were finally able to see their baby.
"She looked completely amazing!" Lisa said, "It was like a whole new child."
While they hadn't been sure how Davina might respond to the surgery, she came through it with flying colours.
Within 72 hours she was out of the PICU, and just eight days later, Davina was finally discharged and able to be with her family.
LIFE AFTER TRANSPLANT
Today, Davina is a happy feisty little three-year-old who lights up every room she's in.
She's meeting her milestones and is happy and healthy.
There are still ongoing risks for her because she's immuno-suppressed from the donation, but her parents say she's facing every bump in the road with a big smile on her face.
"Without an organ donor, we wouldn't have this beautiful girl with us. So have the chat with your family and help end the wait!"
ORGAN DONATION IN AUSTRALIA
According to Donate Life:
Around 1,400 Australians are currently waitlisted for a transplant. A further 11,000 are on dialysis, many of whom would benefit from a kidney transplant.
In 2017, 1,675 lives were transformed by 510 deceased and 273 living organ donors and their families.
In 2017, more than 9,600 Australians benefited from eye and tissue donation.
The majority of Australians (69 per cent) are willing to donate their organs and/or tissue when they die.
In Australia, 90 per cent of families say yes to donation when their loved one is a registered donor. This compares to the national consent rate of 59 per cent.
If our national consent rate reaches 70 per cent, Australia would be in the top 10 performing countries.
One in three Australians are registered donors despite the majority (69 per cent) believing that registering is important.
While the majority of Australians (71 per cent) think it's important to talk a with their family/partner, only half (51 per cent) of Australians have discussed whether they want to be a donor.
Of the 36 per cent of Australians who feel confident they know if their loved ones are willing to be a donor, 93 per cent say they would uphold their wishes.
To register as an organ donor, click here.