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Anthea Brotherton – or Anthy as her Mum affectionately calls her - was a perfectly healthy six week old baby before the unthinkable happened.
“She woke upset from her afternoon nap. She had a very high pitch scream, similar to her colic cry but much worse,” Karli recalls.
“We took her temperature and she was a dangerously low 32.8 degrees - that’s when the alarm bells rang. It’s such a horrible moment to know that your newborn baby is in trouble but not know what it is or how to help.”
Between home and the hospital, around a ten minute drive, Anthea was letting out only a few mumbles and groans and at this point was largely unresponsive; this all happened in a very short period of time.
The pediatricians at their local hospital ran a series of tests before realising Anthea’s condition was far more sinister than first thought.
For her best chance of survival, she needed specialist treatment and an emergency RACQ LifeFlight airlift to Brisbane.
“At this point we were so scared and anxious. It hit home that something was seriously wrong, and we could lose our little girl,” said Karli.
Little Anthy had only been in the world six weeks and here she was, fighting for her young life.
Anthea had suffered a stroke in the cerebellum and a major brain bleed.
As she was loaded into the helicopter, the nervous parents said goodbye to their daughter, not sure when they would see her again or in what condition.
“I felt very upset leaving my baby daughter in their care, but we knew she was in the right hands,” Karli said.
Our crew took amazing care of tiny baby Anthea. With a suspected stroke, seconds count. LifeFlight Pilot Alex Dorr – a parent himself – flew Anthea to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital as quick as possible so her worried parents could have some relief.
“Any time we airlift a child, you can’t help but feel for the parents and what they’re going through. I’m glad we could provide a small amount of comfort for them,” Pilot Alex said.
“You can’t help but think ‘what if that were my child’ and you want to do everything in your power to get them to where they need to be to have the best chance of survival,” Alex said.
When Karli and her partner arrived in Brisbane in the middle of the night, Anthea had been safely transported and already undergone extensive testing including blood and urine tests, ultrasounds and MRIs.
“It was so hard to believe it when they confirmed she’d had a stroke,” Karli said.
“The next thing we knew we were signing consent forms and Anthea was rushed into surgery for six excruciating hours.”
Anthea was operated on with minutes to spare because she received a lifesaving airlift, thanks to generous people like you. Surgeons raced against time to remove the blood clot and drain the blood. Anthea required three bags of blood to be stabilised. It was such a big ordeal for such a little baby.
Bu she survived. She survived because your donations funded her lifesaving mission. When there was no other options,
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue gave Anthea and her family a lifeline. A second chance.
Anthea is now at home with her mum and Dad and doting big brother Kai and defying doctor’s expectations every day. She’s gaining lots of neck strength, rolling over like a champ and trying her hardest to crawl. Even the smallest milestones are momentous for Karli.
“Considering the huge set back she had, she is doing exceptionally well. The neurosurgery team have been extremely happy with her progress. She loves to surprise us! I just love watching how she responds to movements and how she reaches out to grab things in front of her, like toys or her brother’s hair. It’s a fantastic sign that she has some vision.
“We have been told to expect anything from needing glasses, right through to being totally blind and needing to learn braille and requiring a guide dog, so any observations we make like this makes us very proud.”
Despite Anthea’s progress, Karli admits she still has fears.
“The times when she gets unexplainably upset, it’s on our mind ‘what if it’s another stroke?’ as we haven’t learned yet why it happened,” Karli said.
But Karli is forever grateful for the service that kept their daughter alive.
“If she hadn’t had access to the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter, she most likely wouldn’t have made the ambulance trip to Brisbane. We are so thankful for everything they did for her so that we still have our little girl with us today,” Karli said.