If you’re wondering whether to vaccinate or not, I encourage you to read this. It’s a description of our son’s last 24 hours on earth, and I truly hope that the closest you ever get to this story is simply just reading it – and never living through it like we have.
We stood anxiously in the pediatrics intensive care unit (PICU), waiting for an update from Riley’s doctor. We had come down to the PICU earlier that morning, after learning Riley’s suspected whooping cough had now developed into pneumonia.
While I knew that it was the best place for him, I couldn’t ignore the anxious faces of the other parents who walked past Riley’s room or the drawer that said “baptism gowns”. It was a stark reminder that not every child who enters intensive care, leaves.
I remember seeing the wall of “PICU graduates” – photos of happy-faced kids who had survived and thrived after spending time in the PICU. I imagined the photo we’d send in of Riley, once he was all better. Once he’d learned to smile, once his cough had gone away, once he was all healed.
Feeling nervous, hands sweaty, we listened to Riley’s doctors talk. “Life support will give his little body a chance to rest and heal” we were told.
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They also described the plasma exchange he would possibly need later that afternoon, where his blood would be manually removed by a syringe and replaced with a donation of plasma – a procedure that would take hours. I looked at our beautiful boy, who was already connected to so many tubes and wires.
This was starting to feel so serious, the doctors who originally were fairly positive now looked worried and concerned. We called up Greg’s mum who lived in Adelaide and asked her to fly to Perth that evening, as things weren’t looking all that good.