Machines save Colac baby

Colac’s Sharna Warrender with five-month-old son Harley Summers.

Colac’s Sharna Warrender with five-month-old son Harley Summers.

COLAC mum Sharna Warrender was unable to hold her baby son Harley Summers for 16 days after his birth as a series of machines worked to keep him alive.

Harley, now five months, spent weeks with breathing machines and needed resuscitation three times as he spent his first month of life in Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

His parents Ms Warrender and Dario Summers have praised the efforts of medical teams in Colac and Melbourne who eased the pressure at the hardest time in their lives.

Harley needed the help after suffering meconium aspiration, which happens when a newborn inhales a mixture of amniotic fluid and its own faeces, causing breathing problems.

Ms Warrender said Harley was born via an emergency caesarean section at Colac Hospital.

“He was not breathing at birth, he was two minutes before he took his first breath,” she said.

Harley Summers receiving his first embrace from parents Sharna Warrender and Dario Summers in the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Harley Summers receiving his first embrace from parents Sharna Warrender and Dario Summers in the Royal Children’s Hospital.

“Then they thought it was okay, so I had a hold for a few seconds, and then Dario took him back because it was time for me to get stitched up and Dario said, excuse me he’s turned blue, he’s turned blue.”

Ms Warrender said Dr Anne McGuane spent four hours pumping oxygen for Harley to keep him alive before a Newborn Emergency Transport Service vehicle took him to the RCH.

“From then on he was on ventilation, real high ventilation, I think that was just about two weeks,” she said.

Doctors started to wean Harley off ventilation first with four days on CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, a machine which pumps air to the nose and mouth to keep airways open.

He then had a week of high-flow breathing help, before moving to low-flow.

“He had a 60-year-old smoker’s lungs,” Harley’s mum said.

Ms Warrender’s caesarean section meant she was unable to travel to the RCH with Harley.

She had to wait 48 hours before heading to Melbourne, and then waited another 16 days to hold her son again.

Ms Warrender said the RCH had eased the pressure at the hardest time in her life.

“We had accommodation for four nights, they were the most critical for Harley when he nearly passed,” she said.

“They were like a family, they made you feel like family, they just made the hardest part of your life, also the easiest.

“It’s an amazing place that’s for sure.”

Ms Warrender also praised Dr McGuane’s work in helping Harley, as well as Dr Zoe Barren.

“She went out of her way, I can’t thank her enough,” she said of Dr McGuane.

Victoria’s Good Friday Appeal on April 18 will aim to raise millions of dollars for the Royal Children’s Hospital to continue saving children’s lives and supporting their families.

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