kids

Mum Jacqui was suspected of abuse, but the truth behind her son's bruises was unexpected.

Jacqui Bradshaw was an exhausted mum of a newborn baby when she took her son Mason, who was just three-and-a-half months old, to the family doctor.

A normally happy and well-sleeping baby, Mason woke one morning after a poor sleep, clearly agitated. But it was more than that.

“There was something not right about the way he was holding his leg,” Jacqui tells Mamamia. “I went to bounce him on his hip, and he was holding his left leg out strangely.”

Concerned, Jacqui took him to the doctor to get checked out by her local doctor in Darwin. On the basis of a suspected broken leg, little Mason was sent for x-rays, but the results were inconclusive. So the doctor ordered his leg to be placed in a half-leg cast.

After that was done, Jacqui returned home with her baby, but noticed a few days later that the plaster had seemingly rubbed against his leg because there was bruising around that area of the cast. As a result, her GP then sent Jacqui to hospital – and that’s when her nightmare really began.

“It was the worst day of my life. The first thing the nurse at the hospital did was strip Mason off, and check his body for bruising. She found a yellow bruise on his rib, and became really worried.”

After repeat x-rays, the nurse told Jacqui that he had a spinal fracture, and that because Mason was under two years of age, mandatory reporting laws applied – which meant that Jacqui had to face an interview with Child Protection Services.

What to do for a parent with a child in hospital. Post continues below.

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“It was horrible. I was so worried about my baby, and here I was being asked about how I was coping.”

Jacqui explained that her husband, Mason’s dad, was a fly-in-fly-out worker, but that she had lots of help from her mother – who had also accompanied her to the interview.

“Mum was getting really upset that my parenting was being questioned like this, but I just wanted to answer the questions and get through it,” Jacqui says.

Child Protection Services then told the young mum that they needed to take some blood from Mason to run some tests.

“It was scary, they didn’t tell me what they were looking for,” Jacqui says, adding that they simply requested she return the next week for the results.

When they did return, CPS took them directly to the Haematology and Oncology ward, and that’s when Jacqui was finally told her little baby had severe haemophilia.

According to the Haemophilia Foundation Australia, bleeding disorders such as haemophilia and von Willebrand disease, “affect the body’s ability to produce clotting factors or proteins in the blood that control bleeding, which means that minor injuries can be life-threatening without treatment.”

Jacqui explains there’s no family history, but nevertheless, Mason’s kind of haemophilia is severe.

“He makes no clotting factor at all,” she says.

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For that reason, medical treatment that would normally be reserved until an infant such as Mason was more mobile, had to be commenced immediately.

“Mason had two knee bleeds, and two ankle bleeds, within a couple of months,” Jacqui explains.

“Bleeds are where blood starts pooling into a joint. The longer that happens, the more the iron in the blood deteriorates the cartilage and causes serious damage.”

Mason was then put on a permanent treatment that would hopefully prevent such bleeds from happening in the first place. Now five-years-old, Mason receives twice-weekly treatment for his disorder. And mum Jacqui couldn’t be prouder of the way he handles it all.

Mason with his customary brave, proud smile. Source: supplied.

"Mason doesn't know any different. He's so mature, he's used to being in hospital. He doesn't feel different to the other kids," she says. "He feels proud that he's brave enough to get his needles."

And Mason certainly doesn't let haemophilia hold him back.

"He races BMX, he's started karate - you wouldn't know he's ill," Jacqui explains, adding that the only external sign of his condition is the medic alert bracelet he wears.

Mason's diet is not restricted in any way, although he can't take blood-thinning medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin. But Jacqui assures us that most of the time, it's just business as usual in their home - which now includes little brother Bo, who is three-years-old.

And far from viewing the blood disorder as a disadvantage, Jacqui explains that with Mason in kindergarten, and planning to start primary school next year, she has been inspired to become a registered nurse so she can support families who are also going through a haemophilia diagnosis.

"That's why it's so important to me to work with the Haemophilia Foundation - to help give other families hope, and show them that life can continue even with a blood disorder."

For more information on bleeding disorders visit Haemophilia Foundation Australia.

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