Thomas is a miracle baby in more ways than one. His parents, Schannyne and Nathan were told there was a high probability they may not be able to have children, as Schannyne has an autoimmune condition. But little Thomas came along as a happy surprise.
Due to Schannyne’s condition, ultrasounds were being done monthly and it was during these check-ups that a blood clot was found in the umbilical cord. Schannyne was flown from Rockhampton to Brisbane and delivered her baby by emergency caesarean at just 24 weeks and 6 days.
It was touch and go for the Westerland family for the first few months of Thomas’ life. The little bub had premature lungs, and has undergone four surgeries, been resuscitated once and has been on oxygen since birth.
During the four months that Thomas was in the Mater Children’s Hospital, his family stayed at Ronald McDonald Houses in both South Brisbane and Herston. It was a home away from home for Schannyne and also Nathan, when he could travel from their hometown of Yeppoon, as well as the couple’s parents and relatives who stayed with them periodically for support.
“Ronald McDonald House gave me peace of mind, knowing I had somewhere to basically live for four months. They made sure I was fed, checked up on me to make sure I was ok and offered support people to talk with. I thought I had to find my own accommodation and go into debt just to be near my little one but Ronald McDonald House was my lifesaver. I could not have functioned very well if I didn’t have the house to stay in.”
After 122 nights at Ronald McDonald House, Thomas' family were finally able to go home, more than four months after his birth, and three weeks after what was Thomas’ original due date. He was just 582 grams at birth, but was a healthy 3.87kgs when he left hospital. So far, doctors haven’t found any long lasting issues for this miracle boy.
“Thank you Ronald McDonald House for saving us. Thank you for all the support. If we ever need to come back we know you will be there to help us.” Schannyne (Thomas' Mum)