Colby's Story

Sometimes life throws a curveball – accidents happen and health conditions pop up out of nowhere.

It’s in those terrifying moments that we dream of a superhero who can fly in and help take away the pain. Thanks to generous donors like you, our superheroes at Newborns and Paediatric Transports Service (NETS) can help transport extremely ill children from remote, regional and city areas to expert clinical care, when and wherever they may need it.

Without NETS' quick-thinking skills and invaluable training, little Colby may not be here today.

Just over three years ago, Colby was very sick. The four-day-old baby couldn’t keep any milk down, had dropped 500 grams off her birth weight and had acid levels reading in the thousands. The typical acid level of a baby her size and weight should be almost zero- meaning Colby’s body wasn’t processing the proteins she needed and was at high risk of shutting down.

"I still remember that moment. My hands were shaking and I looked at my husband for a small sign of comfort saying everything would be okay. But it wasn’t. Her life was now in the hands of strangers, only days after a perfect birth. How could my baby go from healthy to critical in only four days?" recalls Shannon.

Colby’s doctors at Bateman’s Bay knew she needed a level of care they simply couldn’t provide, so they rang NETS. Minutes later, a team of healthcare heroes arrive by helicopter to transport Colby to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead for further tests. But the whole ordeal was too much for Shannon to handle, so it was decided her dad Rob would take the flight.

"Shannon was in no condition to fly and seeing Colby dressed head to toe with foreign cords and monitors was absolutely devastating. Our baby girl needed help and it was my turn to be her protector. I still can’t explain that heart-breaking look on Shannon’s face from the helipad 10ft below. It was like some nightmare scene off a movie," recalls Rob.

Mid-way through the flight, monitors started beeping and Colby started convulsing - she was having a seizure. It’s what happened next that still gets Rob teary to this day.

"Here I am, frozen, yelling out what’s happening and there was the team at NETS, working calmly on Colby and staying composed the whole time. If they were nervous, I couldn’t tell because they were making clear and confident decisions throughout the entire flight, like agreeing The Children’s Hospital at Westmead was our best option. They were our heroes," recalls Rob.

By the time Shannon arrived five hours later, doctors had a diagnosis of methylmalonic aciduria. The extremely rare genetic condition affecting only eight children in Australia means Colby’s metabolism can’t break down proteins and fats properly. While Colby will forever need injections and an extremely restricted diet, her parents are still thanking their lucky stars she’s alive and happy.

"We had known from 19-weeks that Elle has a cleft palate and it threw our world upside down. I was devastated and felt like I had failed her, bringing back feelings from Immi’s birth. I blamed myself, fought torturous guilt and searched for an answer why but like so many things it’s just one of the quirks of pregnancy." 


A word of thanks this Christmas...

"If one of our NETS heroes is out there, reading this story, thank you. Thanks to you, Colby is now three and is living her best life at home with her sister. You have kept our family whole and no words will ever be able to express our gratitude. Its people like you who make this world a better place," says Shannon.

To help light up their Xmas, donate to our Appeal today. It could be used to transport extremely ill kids like Colby to the lifesaving expert clinical care they need.

Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation raises funds for Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick , The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Bear Cottage, the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS NSW) and Kids Research