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Gift of sight for Christmas for boy who almost lost eyesight

Five-year-old boy Harvey Atkinson has the gift of sight for Christmas after coming within millimetres of suffering permanent eye damage following a freakish accident on his bicycle.

Harvey and his family visited the Maroochydore RACQ LifeFlight base yesterday to say ‘thankyou’ to the crew, three months after they airlifted him from Gympie Hospital to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

Yesterday was also Harvey’s fifth birthday and  to celebrate his special day and the success of his recovery, the LifeFlight team organised a birthday cake treat and a photo opportunity with the crew and rescue chopper.

The Atkinson family has now recovered from the shocking accident at their property outside of Gympie when their son had a bike accident on September 8.

Vicky Atkinson, Harvey’s mother, recalls hearing a scream and running to see her son had fallen from his bike onto a metal garden trellis, which went into his left eye.

After recognising the emergency situation, her first call was to Triple-0 for an ambulance, followed by an emotional call to her husband Shaun, who was working in Maroochydore over 100km away.

Vicky sat with Harvey, keeping him calm until the ambulance arrived to take them to Gympie Hospital.

“I stayed on the line with Triple-0 until the ambulance arrived but there wasn’t much first aid to do because there was no external bleeding. I just tried to keep calm and make sure he was comfortable,” Vicky said.

“I took a photo of Harvey’s eye while we waited, which ended up being very helpful for the doctors to see his eye after the accident happened, because by the time we got to Gympie Hospital it had swelled completely shut.”

On arrival at Gympie Hospital, the decision was made to transfer Harvey by Sunshine Coast-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, which landed around 11:30pm.

“The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew were fantastic. They talked me through everything and were very caring and helpful,” Vicky said.

“Being able to fly Harvey directly to the Lady Cilento Hospital was such a great emergency service. He was so exhausted and in pain by this point and the chopper delivered us to the hospital hours faster than driving, which helped his chances of a full recovery.”

Upon arrival in Brisbane, scans were done and showed that Harvey had a fractured eye socket, large blood mass and damage to the eye lid. Doctors were initially concerned for his eye sight.

Harvey went into surgery the following afternoon and, given the circumstances, the family received some great news.

Harvey would not lose sight in his left eye. Miraculously, there was also no damage to his eyeball and the fractured eye socket and eyelid would heal over time.

“I don’t know how many times I’d been told by doctors that Harvey is one very lucky boy,” Vicky said.

“The surgeon said that if the metal trellis had entered one or two millimetres either side , he probably would have lost his sight.”

After just five days in hospital, Harvey was allowed to go home and Vicky says his recovery is “going great.”

“Harvey is healing really well with only a small scar on his eyelid. He was back on his bike within a month and I’m very grateful for the care he received. I now make monthly donations to RACQ LifeFlight Rescue to make sure this vital service continues,” she said.

“I just can’t say thank you enough. You don’t realise what these amazing services do until it affects you. It can be the difference between life or death and thank you just is not enough.”

Sunshine Coast-based pilot Paul Costa said it was great to see Harvey healthy and happy at the reunion and to know the LifeFlight crew played an important part in getting him the care he needed.

“It’s amazing to see him in such good health now and it’s pretty special for us all at LifeFlight to know that one of our crews played a part in the critical hours after his accident to get him to specialist care and to ensure that he received the best care available which maximised his chances of a full recovery,” he said.

“The crews love it when patients come back to the base and say thanks. It helps us to realise the vital role we play and how much the community values what we do. It makes everything seem worthwhile.”