At just 11 months of age, beautiful Saba (pictured right) nearly lost her life. Her story is told in the words of her mother, Erica.
“Saba’s story is one of heartache, hope and miracles.
She was born a healthy and gorgeous baby girl then at 11 months of age our whole world crumbled.
One night over dinner we noticed her jugular vein pulsating rapidly in her neck and knew something wasn’t right.
After a trip to the GP the following morning and further investigation she was collected by the Paediatric Intensive Care Units retrieval team and taken to the Mater Children’s Hospital to be under the care of the cardiology team – the heart doctors.
She remained stable with her elevated heart rate as the team tried to lower her it using medicine and desperately trying to find the cause.
This was all very traumatic with Saba having ECGs, ultrasounds and the administration of lots of medication to try and counteract this fast heart rate.
She was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit later that night and by the following afternoon her situation was rapidly worsening.
Her heart was tiring fast, as was its function.
It was decided that Saba should be sedated to rest.
Very quickly upon sedation her heart failed and she needed to be placed on a heart lung bypass machine called ECMO.
The shock and disbelief we experienced when the doctors informed us of what had happened was monumental. How could this happen to our healthy princess and would she survive this? Nobody knew.
Saba spent one week on life support, had numerous surgeries and by some amazing miracle her heart began to beat again properly on Day 5.
By Day 7, she was taken off of ECMO and we were able to look into the eyes of our little princess again.
Saba was diagnosed with JET syndrome and it was said to be a very unique and rare case. She spent the next 6 weeks in hospital as the doctors tried to control her fast heartbeat. She went back and forth from the intensive care unit and the cardiac ward as she experienced repeated episodes of JET.
A reveal device was placed in her chest over her heart to allow us to keep track of her heart function at home and relay information to cardiologists as needed.
By some miracle we were able to take her home heavily medicated after seven long weeks.
One year on, Saba is a happy and boisterous toddler. People are amazed and in disbelief when they hear her story and see how well she looks. Her future is unknown and as her medications are reduced we will learn if further surgery is required.
As parents, we never ever thought we would be exposed to such a situation, and remain deeply grateful to everyone who was and who still is involved with saving Saba’s life.
If Saba had of crashed anywhere other than the intensive care unit she would surely have died, which is a thought to hard to contemplate.
We will be forever indebted to the amazing PICU team and surely without them we would not have our Saba.”
So what role did the Preston James Fund in helping Saba?
Firstly vital equipment used by the retrieval team to collect Saba and bring her to the MCH specialists was purchased by the Preston James Fund.
The intensive care unit nurses and doctors have been highly trained using simulation so that they can practice for real life events. When Saba crashed her nurses and doctors knew exactly what to do. The Preston James Fund purchased this equipment.
Finally when Saba was on the ECMO machine she needed her blood clotting checked every single hour by a Hemochron machine purchased by the Preston James Fund – this helped save her life.
For every parent Saba’s story seems impossible. It’s too difficult to imagine. Unfortunately the reality is 1200 children every year are admitted to the Mater Children’s intensive care unit, 400 of which are following heart surgery and approximately 25 children of those needing ECMO just like Saba.
These children are someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, niece, nephew, friend.
Saba is living proof that your donation makes a difference.