Eight months on from a rescue helicopter dash to Starship children’s hospital, two-year-old Grace Dheda is enjoying being back on her family’s farm – even though it nearly killed her.
In March, Grace and her family were savouring rural life in Wellsford.
Mum Megan and Dad Kirin were planning their up-coming wedding.
That all came to a sudden halt when their daughter began to show signs of illness.
After two days of vomiting and diarrhea, a doctor diagnosed a tummy bug.
Grace was sent home and prescribed plenty of fluids, Megan says.
At home Grace played on the deck like her normal self, but collapsed at bedtime.
Grace was rushed back to the doctors.
“They put her on oxygen straight away. She’d been unconscious for about 45 minutes and they were starting to worry about potential brain damage.”
Given the severity of the situation and the closest ambulance an hour away, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called.
Grace and Megan were ferried to a helipad and arrived to see the chopper landing.
“It was such a relief to see the helicopter,” Megan says.
Megan recalls, “At first nobody knew what was wrong with her and why she was having these seizures. It wasn’t until a few days before we left the hospital that we found out she had contracted E. coli and HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome).”
HUS is a severe complication of the E. coli infection that can lead to kidney failure.
At first it was thought that Grace had contracted the bacterial infection through the water supply, however this was later tested and found to be normal.
It is now believed that she contracted it via the farm animals.
Megan says, “We’ve got cows here on the farm and I don’t like Grace going anywhere near them. The doctor told me I have ‘parental anxiety.’ ‘I love the farm life, but I’m a bit paranoid now and have about 20 bottles of sanitiser around the place.”
The Helicopter Trust is actively fundraising at present in order to purchase three new ventilators for use on their helicopters and in their Rapid Response Vehicle.