Brave four-year-old airlifted to specialist care
Tayte Gill is like any other four-year-old boy. He idolises superheroes; loves playing with his big sister, Aliviah; and has a cheesy, toothy smile that melts your heart. But, unlike many other children his age, Tayte is living with leukaemia.
Earlier this year Tayte faced a race against the clock to save his young life.
On Wednesday 11 March, the normally boisterous tot was struck down with high temperatures. As the hours passed, Tayte’s condition worsened and when a trip to the family GP failed to pinpoint the cause of the youngster’s affliction his parents, Brendon and Kristal grew increasingly worried. By Friday afternoon, they knew that something was seriously wrong with their little boy.
“I was at work on the Friday and Brendon stayed home with him for the day – as soon as I walked in the door that afternoon and saw Tayte, I knew something was really wrong,” said Kristal.
When Tayte’s temperature rose to a dangerous 42 degrees Celsius, the Gills rushed him to the Toowoomba Base Hospital, where he underwent a series of blood tests, x-rays, and ultrasounds.
Devastatingly, the results revealed that Tayte’s blood counts were critically low.
“After a while, one of the doctors came in and told us that he was a really sick little boy, and that he either had a really bad infection that was lowering his blood counts, or it was some type of malignancy.
“To hear that was terrible, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone; it was absolutely horrible,” said Kristal.
The doctor explained that Tayte required further specialist testing.
“They needed to chopper him to Brisbane,” said Kristal.
“It was pretty much, we need to go now – we need to get this little boy to Brisbane now.”
At 9pm that night, a RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter was dispatched. CareFlight pilot Don Fillingame and experienced aircrewman Chris Campbell collected a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) team en route so that Tayte would have the very best specialist care whilst in transit between hospitals.
“All the CareFlight staff were fabulous. As soon as the retrieval team arrived, they introduced themselves – they even got a bit of a laugh out of me; they were amazing,” said Kristal.
“They were all so warm, relaxed, kind people – they really made me feel really comfortable. They were constantly asking if I was doing ok.
“I was a bit numb. I obviously was in shock, having been told that my son might have some sort of malignancy, but I knew that I was in good hands and I was able to calm down.”
Brendon can still vividly recall the emotion of watching his wife and critically ill son leaving the Toowoomba Hospital helipad in the back of the yellow, white and blue helicopter.
“Kristal went with him – my mother and I just stood and watched the helicopter take off, then disappear. That was really hard…really hard,” said Brendon.
“It was scary not knowing what was wrong with him – but knowing that he was in good hands helped.”
After being delivered to Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Tayte was admitted into the PICU ward, where he underwent an additional round of tests and scans.
The following morning he was diagnosed with leukaemia and began receiving treatment.
While Kristal admits that the ordeal of Tayte’s illness has been an extremely emotional time for her young family, she says she has a new-found respect for the work of the CareFlight crews.
“We hear the chopper over our house every day and now every time we hear it my husband and I look at each other and say “thank God they’re there”. It’s such a wonderful service,” said Kristal.
Tayte has now commenced the initial stage of chemotherapy; his parents have been advised that, depending on results, he will receive chemo for at least another two years.
“His first chemo stage is about seven months; every month changes, so we are basically living month-by-month at the moment with his treatment,” said Kristal.
“He’s a happy little fellow, though – cheeky as ever. He’s a cheeky monkey.
“He’s very brave. He keeps us brave.
“Our situation would definitely have been worse if CareFlight weren’t there for us – I’d hate to think what might have happened if Tayte was taken by road and didn’t get to Brisbane as quickly.
“The condition that he was in – he may not have made it,” she said.
With your help, we can airlift countless more critical patients just like Tayte to urgent specialist care and help save thousands of lives.