health

An Australian father and his baby are fighting for their lives in separate hospitals.

Three days before Christmas last year, Aimee and Luke Baglin welcomed their second child, a daughter named Eva into their Sydney-based family. It should have been a magical time for the family, but within hours, it turned into a nightmare that they are still living six months on.

Born with a rare heart disease, Eva required open heart surgery almost immediately after being born and had to have a catheter inserted into her heart in April. Most of her young life has been spent in hospital, fighting for her life, always with Luke and Aimee by her side.

baglin family
Luke and Eva Baglin. Source: GoFundMe.

At the same time as the second surgery, though, 34-year-old Luke was having an MRI to try and locate the source of the frequent headaches he'd been experiencing for months.

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Initially, doctors found what they believed were tumours throughout his lungs and eight lesions on his brain. Doctors told the Caringbah couple it was cancer and said Luke was likely to die. They recommended he get his affairs in order sooner rather than later.

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“I had to leave him there in the ED and pack a bag for Eva to go to Westmead,” 31-year-old Aimee, a nurse, said, adding, “You’d think one illness would be enough for one family."

Days later, a biopsy showed that what doctors had found was not cancer at all, but actually cysts caused by inhalation of a rare gumtree fungus. And while Luke's diagnosis went from terminal cancer to crytococcus meningitis and encephalitis, Aimee says she still felt that "no, this is still bad."

“It’s called Cryptococcus gattii," Aimee explained. "It comes from spore from the red gum tree specifically and some people breathe in the spores."

While extremely rare (just 96 cases have been recorded in Australia between 2000 to 2007), usually, crytococcus gattii infections are associated with those who work in sawmills and live in tropical areas - particularly those with dense red river gum and red forest gum populations. So how Luke, who lives in Sydney, contracted the illness, is still a mystery that's baffling doctors.

And while crytococcus gattii can be fatal, thanks to the early detection, Luke is now undergoing treatment at St George Hospital.

“Had we not started treatment, he could have died, ”Aimee said.

baglin family
The Baglin family. Source: GoFundMe.

Then, if things couldn't get worse, last Monday baby Eva underwent her second open heart surgery to treat a double inlet left ventricle. At the same time at another hospital, Luke had a seizure.

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Now, both Luke and Eva are fighting for their life, but Aimee is adamant that "You’ve just got to be positive and optimistic. Falling apart doesn’t help."

baglin family
Luke and Eva Baglin. Source: GoFundMe.

To assist the Baglins, who have been unable to work since December, a family friend has created a GoFundMe campaign to try and help the family in their time of need.

"As you can see this is more than any young family should need to cope with let alone the financial pressure they must be under," the page's creator and family friend Yenktesh Reddy writes.

Head here to donate to the Baglin family's appeal. 

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