Aria's journey: From tiny beginnings to lifesaving care

20 October 2023 | Expected time to read: 3 minutes

At just 24 weeks pregnant, Amy was told she would need to deliver her baby due to severe pre-eclampsia, a decision made to save both their lives. 

Aria was born weighing just 493 grams and with short gut syndrome. Her disconnected intestines caused complications including dialated bowels and a distended stomach, making her more susceptible to bacterial overgrowth. At just six days old, Aria was transferred by the Newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS) from the family's local hospital to the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, which provides highly specialised care for the state's sickest babies. 

Aria underwent her first surgery at eight days old, making her the smallest patient her surgeon, Dr Erik La Hei, had operated on in 20 years. Describing the surgery as delicate as tying together two tiny wet noodles. Two months of intense care at the Grace Centre followed, and Aria finally transitioned to the Clancy Ward for her road to recovery. 

Aria was supported throughout her journey by a wide range of teams and specialists including surgical, gastroenterologists, neonatologists, nutritionists, social workers, nurses, and volunteers. 

"If it wasn't for the amazing knowledge and training of the neonatal doctors, the birthing team, the surgical team, the gastroenterologists, the NETS team and of course, the incredible team in the Grace Centre, Aria wouldn't be here today," said Amy. 

After 237 days in hospital, Aria's parents received their Christmas miracle, Aria was discharged, celebrating her first Christmas at home with loved ones. 

"It was a surreal moment when we finally left hospital. It was such a massive accomplishment, but it also felt like we were leaving behind our extended family at the hospital, all of whom were invested in Aria's success," Aria's dad, Kalle said. 

 Now settled in at home, Aria is continuing to grow, and her condition is being effectively managed through medications, with lots of support from her 'extended family'. 

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