Sami’s story (July 2011)
Blood donation helps people of all ages and circumstances. Sixteen year old Sami is just like any other teenager who enjoys music, playing footy and hanging out with his friends. The one thing that makes Sami different to his friends is that every three weeks, he receives a blood transfusion at Northern Health to treat Thalassemia Major, a hereditary condition that means his body does not produce enough red blood cells and hemoglobin.
At each visit, Sami receives three units of blood – the equivalent of three donations by blood donors. ‘I want to say thank you to everyone who donates blood – it makes a real difference and I’m so grateful for having the opportunity to do the things I enjoy,’ Sami says.
Sami has been undergoing these lifesaving transfusions since he was a baby, just eight months old – without them he would not be the ‘regular’ teenager he is today.
Stephanie Follett (September 2011)
Stephanie Follett is a fighter. Born at 27 weeks gestation, she weighed just 441 grams (15 ounces). It was four and a half months before Stephanie’s Mum, Gail, was able to bring her little girl home. ‘It was such a wonderful feeling to finally be able to bring her home – I was over the moon,’ Gail says.
Stephanie’s local Maternal and Child Health nurse referred Stephanie to Northern Health’s paediatric team at Craigieburn for ongoing care which included: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and nutrition advice.
‘The paediatric support we’ve received from the team at Craigieburn has been unbelievable,’ Gail says.
‘The entire team has shown us tremendous compassion and support, and not just for Stephanie but for me too,’ she says.
‘It’s been a very long journey for us, and there have been a few tears along the way, but the paediatric team has always been there to help us. They’ve understood our needs and nothing is ever too much trouble when problems arise.’
Gail and Stephanie have been attending regular one-on-one and group sessions of physio and occupational therapy which has provided a wide range of activities to strengthen Stephanie’s muscles, improve her postural position and enhance her coordination and motor skills.
Feeding and weight gain have always been a challenge for Stephanie since birth due to her under-developed digestive system, but with help from the dietetics department Gail has been able to add extra calories to Stephanie’s diet which is helping her gain weight and grow.
Stephanie is now 19 months old (age adjusted 16 months) and is fast catching up on developmental milestones – she’s crawling and standing on her own, and has a little A-frame walker to help her learn to walk. ‘She’s progressing very well and we’re told that by the age of 4 she should be fully caught up,’ Gail says.
‘The paediatric team have turned the challenges of raising a premature baby into fun activities that benefit the development and health of our child. It’s been extremely rewarding for me as a mother to watch my little girl achieve major developmental milestones.’