Young mum’s fight to diagnose son’s illness
A CRUCIAL combination of a first-time mother's instincts and the determination to get answers for her tiny baby were the key to uncovering her son's many health complications, including a serious heart defect.
Bonnie-Lea Cahill refused to give up finding why now 11-week-old Oliver Sievers was so ill.
Her persistency paid off and the most serious diagnosis was a hole in his heart.
The family now awaits open heart surgery in Brisbane later this year.
But to add to their worries is dad Jordan Sievers losing his job as a transport company yardman because he needed to take time to care for his son with his partner, leaving the family with financial woes as well.
Oliver was born in Cairns Hospital and was just three weeks old when his mum noticed he was becoming overly unsettled, crying up to 18 hours on some days.
Their worries escalated when their newborn son wasn't putting on weight and was suffering severe reflux.
The couple first believed an allergy to cow's milk might be to blame and they worked with their GP to try various options to help their son, including using a different milk formula.
Then on August 6, while at work, Mr Sievers received a frantic call from his partner.
"She was in tears and said to just get home because we're on our way to the emergency department," Mr Sievers said.
The Redlynch Valley couple took their son to the emergency department before spending two weeks in hospital when doctors confirmed that Oliver had ventricular septal defect - a hole in his heart. He also had torticollis, fluid in his lung, a chest infection and an enlarged liver and heart.
"We basically went there with one issue and walked out with numerous underlying issues we didn't know about," Mr Sievers said.
"If it weren't for my partner ringing up my GP saying there's got to be something else wrong and that we needed a referral, then we wouldn't know where we'd be today.
Ms Cahill said: "After being fed, he would burp then just scream, which isn't normal."
She repeatedly kept asking her GP for advice and for a referral to the hospital because "I wasn't going to give up until I got to the bottom of it".
"If they had run all tests and said there was nothing wrong, I would've accepted it," Ms Cahill said. "But I felt that as a mum, I just knew in my heart that I had to keep going. It felt like forever, but we finally got there. It's been very hard and very emotional.
"But he's a happy baby and overall doing OK."
Oliver is now fed via a nasogastric tube, which passes through his nostril into his stomach, as he awaits surgery.
"We've been very lucky to have a good team at the hospital to uncover all these issues," Ms Cahill said.
The Cairns community is rallying behind the family, with a GoFundMe page to raise funds for costs associated with the surgery. To donate to the family, visit GoFundMe.
Originally published as Young mum's fight to diagnose son's illness