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The Project was minutes away from going to air when Lisa Wilkinson discovered a problem.

While Lisa Wilkinson’s debut on Sunday night’s edition of The Project appeared seamless to the hundreds of thousands of people watching across Australia, behind the scenes, things weren’t so calm.

Just moments before going to air, The Herald Sun reports, “The first sign of panic showed on Lisa’s face”.

The 58-year-old, who has decades of experience in television, looked around and said to the crew, “Ah, guys, I’ve just got static in this earpiece”.

Of course, the earpiece feeds crucial information from producers guiding the show and for most people about to go to air for a widely anticipated debut, a malfunctioning one would be a nightmare.

But without enough time to get a new one, Wilkinson smiled, and effortlessly made it to the first ad break – without any direction.

In that first break, Wilkinson joked to the 30 members of the studio audience, “Let’s put that down to a weird initiation and if that’s it, we’re doing okay.”

During the show, Wilkinson also managed to bring a number of viewers to tears with the story of a man who lost his wife, and months later welcomed their baby boy.

As Lisa explained, young Queensland couple Bec and Gareth Arena wanted to have children, but realised Bec’s cystic fibrosis diagnosis would make it difficult, even life-threatening for her to carry a child to full-term.

Then Jessica Brockie, who already had two children of her own with New Zealand soccer player Jeremy Brockie, had an idea.

“I asked her, ‘what is it, Bec, is it eggs, what’s the issue?’,” Jessica said on The Project. “She said, ‘yeah with my lung capacity, you know, it’s going to be risky, I’m not going to be able to carry.’ I said, ‘well, I carry babies, I could probably carry a baby for you.'”

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Bec and Gareth accepted and Jessica fell pregnant with the couple’s first child in May.

“Bec rang me and said, ‘We’re going to be parents.’ I was at the front of work, just pacing up and down the front of the workshop. We just couldn’t believe it,” Gareth said.

But in September, Gareth’s joy turned to the worst kind of heartbreak. Bec, a much-loved member of her community, died as a result of complications with her illness.

“It was quite a quick deterioration really. Things started getting really bad… There was never a thought in my mind that the worse could actually happen. And we never really spoke about the possibilities of her not seeing her son,” Gareth recalled.

Gareth didn’t have long to process his new reality as a single parent. Last week Jessica gave birth to his son, Rixon James, who was placed on Gareth’s chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact.

The moving story left Wilkinson’s fellow panelists declaring, “Better not make us cry like that ever again.”

Lisa replied with an important message: “Sorry about that. Research into cystic fibrosis is horribly underfunded and it was Gareth’s greatest wish that in sharing Bec’s  story he could help raise awareness and much-needed dollars.”

To help, you can go head to the Cystic Fibrosis Australia website and donate.

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