Doctors say no brain activity, family refuses to give up
AS Rockhampton's Daphnejean Finnegan strokes the head of her son, she knows one of the toughest decisions of her life is coming.
Daphnejean is living every mother's worst nightmare.
Her son Jamie Manuele has been stuck in a hospital bed since August, after he suffered swelling to his brain.
After months of tending to his every need, she now has three options for Jamie's future.
Daphnejean said she had been told by doctors that Jamie is brain-dead, leaving her with the options to transfer him to a brain injury centre in Brisbane, pay to keep him in a room in the Rockhampton Hospital, or take him home.
She said she could not bear to send her son away to Brisbane, but the family could not afford the long-term cost of keeping him in the Rockhampton Hospital.
In an ideal world, Daphnejean would bring her son home and care for him, but she does not have the equipment or training to go down that path just yet.
Jamie still needs feeding tubes in hospital.
But Daphnejean won't let doctors tell her that Jamie has no brain activity.
She said her son proved them wrong on a daily basis.
"I know he's not brain-dead," Daphnejean said. "He's got a wake-sleep cycle and he's said hello to us. I've helped him eat and sip a drink every day since last week."
Daphnejean refuses to give up on her son.
She said she had told doctors that he was improving.
"When I tell the doctors they say he's not doing anything consistently," Daphnejean said.
"Since he's been in hospital he's been seriously ill with pneumonia, still battling the abscess in his brain; he's just never had the chance to recover.
"I was told when the doctor changes Jamie's care from medical to maintenance, it means he doesn't need treatment anymore and will have to be moved."
The father of four was living his life to the full before suffering swelling to his brain.
He had just bought a property at Alton Downs with his partner Cara.
After spending months in a Brisbane hospital, Jamie was transferred to Rockhampton in time for Christmas with his family.
His mum and partner can't bear the thought of sending him to Brisbane again. "If we had the equipment and training we could take him home," his mum said.
"Or I said 'let's put him in brain injury unit', but there's none in Rocky."
Now Daphnejean is pushing for a brain unit in the region, and to have a neurosurgeon on board.
"There's got to be other people out there in a similar situation, who need help," she said.
For the time being Daphnejean will stay by her son's bedside.
"I honestly don't know what to do."
August: Jamie suffers swelling to his brain and is taken to a Brisbane hospital.
September: Jamie has head and eye movement and is kept on life support.
December: Jamie is stable enough to be cared for at the Rockhampton Hospital