Hunter Baillie a second family for Teddy

Parents Alex and Emily look on with pride as their five-year-old son, Teddy, sprints through the gardens of The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW) with a beaming smile.

It's a small but significant moment for the family. Only six months ago, Teddy became paralysed, starting a tumultuous journey to recovery.

On the first week of January, Teddy tripped over and bumped his head. He became unsteady on his feet and had slurred speech, prompting Alex and Emily to take him to their local Emergency Department at Port Macquarie Base Hospital. He deteriorated rapidly, needing intubation and an emergency transfer to John Hunter Children's Hospital where he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare condition where the body's immune system attacks the nerves. The damage to the nerves causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis but fortunately, the majority of cases eventually make a full recovery.

"We felt relief at having a diagnosis, the prospect of treatment and recovery. With time, our son would recover and this wouldn't be reoccurring," Alex said.

Teddy was transferred to CHW for high-level specialist care, spending two months in Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) followed by four months in Hunter Baillie Ward.

On admission, Teddy was paralysed, unable to walk, talk or communicate and needing a tracheostomy to help him breathe.

He received seven rounds of plasmapheresis, a treatment to replace blood plasma and filter out the antibodies attacking the immune system, and slowly began to recover.

When Teddy was well enough, he was moved to Hunter Baillie ward, the ward becoming his second home for several months.

Here, he started intensive rehabilitation, including daily physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions, with regular support from the Child Life and Music Therapy teams and gradually began to rebuild his strength and become his sassy self again.

“Teddy is amazing. He no longer needs a tracheostomy tube and is walking, talking, eating and drinking again,” Emily said.

The fact there were so many teams collaborating to cover Teddy’s care was incredible, we are eternally thankful for all the support.”

Teddy was discharged from hospital this month and has since returned home to Port Macquarie, only needing to visit again for a routine check-up in six months. It was a bittersweet moment for his family, saying goodbye to the team who had been like family.

"Wow, the support from Hunter Baillie has been incredible and they have really become like family," Emily said.

"They did more than care for Teddy, they also helped us to care for his baby sister Hazel and sat with him so we had time to do the little things like shopping."

Sheridan Bourke, Nursing Unit Manager of Hunter Baillie ward, said it has been a joy to work with Teddy and see how he has progressed since first coming through their door.

“From the little boy who came into the ward not able to walk, talk, eat or even breathe by himself, there is nothing better than watching him run around the ward, laughing, teasing his nurses and entertaining everyone in the room,” Sheridan said.

“It has been many months of hard work and as a ward, we have celebrated every achievement with him and his family. We have walked alongside Alex and Emily as they have navigated this journey, feeling their highs and lows with them and while it is so great to see him finally discharged, we will certainly miss seeing them every day.”

Sheridan said caring for patients like Teddy is what makes her job so special.

“He has touched every single member of the Hunter Baillie team with his infectious laughter, his story telling and love of Pokémon. If you are having a tough day, just a few minutes with at Teddy’s bedside reminds you why you do what you do.”

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