Christmas will be extra special this year for Ben, his partner Sarah and their two daughters.
Their lives were turned upside down in October, when Ben became critically ill due to flu and a bacterial infection leading to lung failure.
“We didn’t know if we’d get Ben home at all, let alone for Christmas,” said Sarah.
“It feels like this is our Christmas miracle.”
Ben is thrilled to be able to leave the four walls of his hospital room.
“We’re going to have a very simple Christmas — just us, our children and our mums. Plus our crazy dog,” he said.
“Our oldest daughter will turn two on Christmas Eve, and the little one is nine months old.”
Touch and go for five weeks
Ben was admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) on October 10, placed in an induced coma and connected to an ECMO machine.
ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
ECMO is a complex machine that keeps the patient alive by continuously pumping blood outside of the body, oxygenating it through an artificial lung, and then returning it to the patient.
ECMO provides oxygen to all the organs in the body, allowing the failing heart or lung to rest, be treated and recover.
For five long weeks, Ben’s family waited and watched with baited breath, as RAH healthcare staff looked after him around the clock and the ECMO machine did its job.
“Everyone should know how incredible the nursing staff, the doctors and the consultants have been throughout this,” Sarah said.
“Not only have they given us Ben back, but they have been the biggest supports for me and our family.”
“They’ve gone above and beyond their job descriptions and made an impossible situation a little bit easier.”
Eventually, Ben was able to be eased out of his coma and disconnected from the ECMO machine.
After a further two weeks in the intensive care unit, he was shifted to a general medical ward to begin preparations to go home.
A privilege to witness
Sophie (pictured with Ben) is ECMO coordinator at the RAH, and has stayed close with Ben and his family members during his treatment and recovery.
“It has been a privilege to care for Ben and witness the love he received from his family throughout his time in hospital,” Sophie said.
“Once Ben came out of his coma, his recovery moved very quickly. It was quite amazing to watch.”
There are three ECMO machines at the RAH, and Sophie works closely with other staff to ensure the highest quality care is delivered to critically ill patients like Ben.
Ben’s return to full health will continue to be supported through Rehabilitation in the Home (RITH) services provided by Central Adelaide Local Health Network.