23 July 2022

Easter baby Charlie finally home after egg-straordinary emergency birth at Crookwell Hospital

| Katrina Condie
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Parents stand over a baby in the ICU at Crookwell Hospital

Ben and Felicity Bucknell with baby Charlie. Photo: Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.

They were waiting for the Easter Bunny to visit, but instead it was Ben and Felicity Bucknell’s first child Charlie who arrived on Easter Saturday night – and he was early.

At just 32 weeks pregnant, Felicity thought she still had eight weeks before her little boy would enter the world, but Charlie had other plans.

“As it was so far before his due date, we thought Felicity was just experiencing Braxton Hicks but thought it was best to go to the local hospital just to make sure everything was ok,” Ben said.

It was a decision that most certainly saved their baby’s life.

Upon their arrival at Crookwell Hospital, it was clear to medical staff that the baby was in distress and would need a lot of extra support when he was born.

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Newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS) teams were called in from both Sydney and Canberra, with the Sydney team reaching Crookwell faster.

Paramedics, a paediatrician and a midwife also travelled from Goulburn with a “Good Egg” infant resuscitation pack. The packs are situated in hospitals across the state to help in situations exactly like Charlie’s.

The NETS team was met on the ground by Southern NSW Local Health District clinical nurse educator Donna Skelly, who came in while on annual leave and local obstetrician Dr Ramaswamy Thangavelu, who came out of retirement after 45 years of service.

Charlie was born needing immediate intubation to support his breathing and surfactant, a surface active agent, was applied to his lungs so they could function properly.

The NETS team spent several hours stabilising Charlie before he was air-lifted to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney for further specialist care.

Parents holding a baby

Ben and Felicity at home in Roslyn with baby Charlie. Photo: Supplied.

Ben doubts Charlie would have lived without the expertise and equipment of the NETS team.

“The emergency response from the Crookwell team to go over and beyond the call of duty was absolutely critical and meant the Sydney NETS team arrived in time to set up the equipment Charlie needed when he was born,” he said.

“The NETS team must be the Navy SEALs of the medical world. They were extraordinarily capable, methodical and calm after (literally) being helicoptered into a crisis.

“Even when there was fog closing in, they found a safe place to lift off so Charlie could get the help he needed as soon as possible.”

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Ben paid tribute to the Crookwell team and particularly Dr Thangavelu who, as fate would have it, also delivered Charlie’s mum Felicity and his aunts 40 years ago.

“They made a very scary situation for us manageable, as we knew that we were in good hands,” Ben said.

“As for Dr Thangavelu, he is an inspiration. At 87 years old, to come out of retirement and to work past 4 am to see Charlie’s mum was recovering well is something I’ll never forget.

“He epitomises the essential contribution that people continue to bring to rural communities.”

Three months on, Charlie is back home in Roslyn and thriving. His proud parents, Ben and Felicity, are forever grateful to all the “angels” who made this milestone possible.

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What a beautiful story and fantastic team work all round! Such a great outcome. Best wishes to all!

Beryl Wilson2:53 pm 24 Jul 22

What N inspirational story of the dedication, professionalism and organisational skills of everybody involved to ensure the best care possible was given to this family as country folk. Bless you all.

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