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Like most seven year olds, Maddox Porter had big dreams. He wanted to become a professional BMX rider when he grew up.
But this young child’s dream and his future was nearly taken away from him this year after a shocking accident.
His grateful family says the timely intervention from his ‘angels of the air’ made all the difference for young Maddox and I just had to share his story with you today, but I must warn you it’s quite distressing.
After reading Maddox’s heart-wrenching ordeal, I hope you can see the enormous difference your gifts make to Queensland families.
It was Easter Sunday and Maddox and his little brother Ashton, their tummies full of Easter eggs, were eager to help their Mum Shelley mow the lawn on the family’s ride-on mower, like they had done many times before.
“I had spent the day mowing and Ashton was on the mower with me and Maddox wanted to hop on with me as well,” she said.
“When Maddox hopped on the mower with me... I don’t really remember…” she breaks off, too emotional to speak.
“We hit a bump and turned too fast and I just remember hearing Maddox screaming ‘Mummy my hand,’ and I turned around and his hand was… everywhere,” said Shelley.
“His hand was almost detached from his wrist, so I started screaming, and Michael, Maddox’s dad, couldn’t hear me, he was on the whipper snipper, and next thing everybody from the street just came running.
“I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Somehow, Shelley managed to grab her phone and dial triple-0 and the ambulance soon arrived.
“As soon as the Paramedic saw it [Maddox’s hand], he knew that we needed to get to hospital and we needed to get their quickly,” Shelley said.
The Toowoomba-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter has just completed another mission when they got the call that Maddox needed desperate help. With every second counting, Pilot Tim immediately re-tasked the aircraft to land on the Porter’s Gatton property, touching down within minutes to fly Maddox to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for urgent surgery.
Shelley was just so grateful to be able to go with her terrified son on the flight.
“They got us there quickly and they were amazing. They were very reassuring,” Shelley said.
“They told me what to do if I had any concerns while I was in the helicopter because I couldn’t hear them but I knew that he would be fine as soon as we were in the helicopter. When we landed, everybody was waiting for us and you couldn’t ask for a better service,” she said.
Maddox spent four and a half weeks in hospital and went into theatre every second day for surgery. Two of those surgeries lasted a full 17 hours. It was a huge ordeal for such a little boy.
“It was a long haul and we’ve come a long way, but we still have a very, very long way to go with multiple surgeries left to come,” Shelley said.
“If RACQ LifeFlight Rescue hadn’t come things would have been very different, he’s got a hand. It’s not perfect, but he shouldn’t have a hand.”
It’s been a long road for the Porter family and Maddox still visits the hospital a few times a week for therapy.
“It doesn’t seem to have worried him too much,” father Michael said.
“He’s more or less accepted that his hand is a little bit different. He’s just getting on with it being a seven-year-old.”
Maddox is still missing fingers and a thumb on his injured hand and doctors won’t operate again until early next year to give the youngster a break.
“His specialist is hoping to give him a thumb one day but they have to assess how the rest of his hand heals in the meantime.”
This will likely be another very long surgery and a few weeks in hospital.
“Whether he will end up with full movement, we just have to wait and see,” Shelley said.
“They actually removed his fibula - his entire fibula from his leg - and that’s what they’ve used to rebuild the top of his hand, so they really need to see how that bone is going to grow in his hand. They told us from day one that it was going to be a really slow process, so we just have to take each day as it comes.”
Maddox keeps himself busy riding bikes, building Lego and playing with his friends and recently started riding at a BMX Club in Toowoomba.
Maddox is on his way to fulfilling his dream - a dream made possible because of his lifesaving flight.
LifeFlight not only saves lives, but helps give patients better long-term outcomes and quicker recoveries because they’re treated by a critical care doctor so quickly after their trauma.
“Perhaps not at the time but certainly later, we realised how important the airlift had been,” said Maddox’s father, Michael said.
“In Maddox’s case due to the trauma of his hand, every second counted and the sooner we could get him into surgery, into theatre, the more likelihood of saving his hand there was,” he said.
The Porter family and their community have since raised more than $10,000 for the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter service since April.
“For what LifeFlight did for our son and our family, I will support them forever. I think if they didn’t come that day Maddox wouldn’t have a hand, it’s as simple as that and I’m grateful,” said Shelley. “Until the day I die, LifeFlight will be very, very, very close to us.”
I hope LifeFlight is close to your family too. Because the crew are here for you, 24/7 should you ever need us. We hope you don’t ever need us, but isn’t it comforting to know we’re here?
On behalf of the thousands of Queensland families who will need us this Christmas time, I thank you.
LifeFlight Foundation Director