A family Christmas miracle

8-year-old Patrick spent his first 109 days in the Women's NICU
28 November 2023 | Fundraising

Support our brilliant researchers and clinicians as they bring hope to families this Christmas. 

Sarah and her husband Callum are forever grateful to the Women’s and are passionate about supporting the hospital’s work so that other families can go home together. They have kindly shared their story as part of the Women’s Christmas Appeal 2023. 

When Sarah and Callum fell pregnant in 2015, they were overjoyed. In the beginning everything was going well.  They never imagined they’d be spending Christmas with their baby in the Women’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).   

At the 20-week scan Sarah and Callum were told the baby wasn’t really moving and a second scan was recommended. It was at that scan they learnt that the baby was smaller than he should have been so Sarah was referred to the Women’s.    

“My doctor called me from her personal phone and said, ‘I couldn’t sleep last night, I think we need to get a second opinion’. It was then that I started to worry that something might be very wrong,” Sarah recalls. 

“We went to the Royal Women’s Hospital, and they ran blood tests and did scans, which showed there was intermittent blood supply between the placenta and the baby.” 

The Women’s monitored Sarah however at 25 weeks a scan revealed everyone’s worst fears, the baby wasn’t getting enough nutrients. Sarah was advised she would need to stay in hospital until the baby was born.  

For the next three weeks, Sarah remained in the hospital carefully monitored around the clock by a team of expert nurses and doctors.  

“At 5am one morning they did a blood test.  Two hours later they came to retest which I thought was a little strange. At 11 o’clock they came to see me and explained my liver enzymes were through the roof and my platelet levels had dropped which meant they would need to perform an emergency caesarean.”  

Baby Patrick was delivered by emergency caesarean at 28 weeks and 1 day, weighing just 727 grams.  

“It was full-on, he did so well at first and then regressed and was on CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) for two months. I remember the doctor came in and said we would still be there for Christmas, which would have been six months in the hospital,” Sarah remembers. 

Patrick was a fighter though and three weeks later, having spent 109 days in the NICU, the family went home together.  Since then, it has been a long road of little milestones and even after eight years, Patrick still experiences the effects of being born early.  

“He’s shorter than most kids his year level and has long-term digestive issues but we have been incredibly lucky. We know other families who spent the first few years in and out of hospital with lung conditions, so we are very blessed.”  

As donors of the Women’s, Sarah and her husband are passionate about ensuring other families have access to the best possible care.  

“Without the Women’s, I may not be here, my son may not have been here, and my life would be completely different, so to be able to give back to help people in the future is really important,” Sarah says. 

Every year, the amazing team at the Women’s cares for more than 1,500 premature babies like Patrick. And thanks to the wealth of research we conduct, every single one of them is given the best possible chance of going home with their families.


About the Women’s Christmas Appeal

The Women’s Christmas Appeal helps to raise vital funds for research, to support families like Sarah, Callum and Patrick and give even the tiniest babies the best chance of surviving. 

If you would like to donate, please visit our Christmas Appeal page.