Birth Story: Heartless thieves torch car with baby’s medical equipment

Posted in Birth Stories.

Baby Alexander's family tragedyk

A mum-of-three has been left devastated after her baby’s medical equipment was torched just days after his release from hospital.

Four-month-old Alexander Pink, who was born with Down Syndrome and requires oxygen, had only been home for two days before heartless thieves stole the family car containing medical equipment and Christmas presents, and torched it.

A rollercoaster journey

Baby Alexander's plea

Alexander’s mum Stacey, who is a member of the Mum’s Grapevine Baby Groups, says she’s in disbelief that the family has been dealt such a cruel blow after months of ups and downs since Alexander’s diagnosis.

“At our 12-week ultrasound we were given a 1 in 504 chance of our baby having T21 (Down Syndrome),” Stacey told Mum’s Grapevine. “We asked about the availability of additional testing, however, as they calculated our risk to be low-moderate we were advised it was not needed at that stage. Fast forward to the 20-week scan at our local hospital and I was required to go in on three separate occasions as the sonographers were investigating the presence of a possible ASD (a hole between the right and left sides of the heart).

“We were referred to a larger hospital where we were told there were also soft markers for T21. We were offered an amniocentesis which I accepted, not because it would have changed our decision whether to continue with the pregnancy, but so we could learn as much as we could about Down Syndrome should the need arise and plan for whatever was in front of us. A very nervous few weeks went by and finally, it was the phone call we had been waiting on. The obstetrician confirmed my details and advised that our baby did, in fact, have Down Syndrome.”

Stacey says the next few weeks were a blur. “I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my entire life. I felt saddened, guilty and like I had lost something. I took time off work to process and eventually came to terms with our baby’s diagnosis. The rest of the pregnancy was somewhat complicated but manageable. We had a follow up with the neonatal cardiologist and the previous hole in his heart was no longer visible at that time, a very significant win.”

After developing gestational diabetes Stacey was advised that induction at 37 weeks would be the safest option, and after an uncomplicated labour, Alexander was born on July 11.

Thieves torch baby's medical equipment

“All my previous fears about having a baby with T21 quickly disappeared once I was able to hold him. Over the next few hours, I attempted to get Alexander to latch but he was unable too. I had a lot of expressed colostrum so the midwives were able to help me syringe feed him. Despite initially being able to stay on the maternity ward with me, Alexander eventually needed to be taken to special care where he would spend the next three weeks.

“During this time a nasogastric tube was placed, as he still was not able to feed orally. He also had temperature instability, low blood sugar and neonatal jaundice. A cardiologist reviewed him in special care where they said he, in fact, did have an 8mm ASD and pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure through the lungs). Once he stabilised, we were sent home on 24 hr oxygen and small bottle feeds with top-ups via nasogastric tube.”

Over the next few months, Alexander had continuous breathing troubles and was in and out of hospital. “A swallow study was done and he was deemed unsafe to drink so became nil by mouth. Approximately one month ago Alexander became increasingly unsettled and developed a cough, which led to another hospital admission where we are advised he was still aspirating despite being on medication.

“We were again transferred to a new larger hospital and had a different type of feeding tube placed which goes further along the small intestine. We were sent home on antibiotics and an increased flow rate of oxygen. Alexander’s ASD is slowly closing over and the cardiologist is confident no intervention will be required.”

Thieves deliver another blow

Family car torched with precious possessions

It finally seemed as though Alexander had turned a corner and the family could breathe a sigh of relief. Until last week, when just two days after Alexander was discharged, thieves targetted the family home.

“Our house was broken into and my car/house keys were taken along with our car. In the car was a lot of personal belongings from our stay in hospital, Christmas presents, Alexander’s oxygen tank, feeding equipment and other medical supplies. Our car was located by police in the early hours of Monday morning. They had stripped out our car seats, personal belongings, Alexander’s medical equipment and tyres.

“Whoever stole the car then decided this wasn’t enough and torched the car along with the surrounding forest.”

Stacey says her insurance has lapsed and she’s also been left with a bill of $500 for the oxygen equipment, as well as being without a car and car seats. Unable to return to work due to Alexander’s medical needs and appointments, Stacey has been left heartbroken.

“My family and I are beyond words and still I’m in disbelief that someone could be so heartless. With Christmas just around the corner, this has certainly dampened our spirits. My family and I have endured a lot over the last few months and we are trying to remain positive for our children.”

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