It was a parent’s worst nightmare.
Alicia Wood learned that her unborn baby had a serious congenital anomaly called diaphragmatic hernia, a life-threatening condition restricting lung development. She found herself in a world of confusing diagnoses, strange life support machines and unclear outcomes. Tragically, her son Lachlan did not survive his illness.
In her grief, Alicia determined to help other families faced with heart disease, the biggest killer of children under age one in Australia. Her focus was improving equipment and services in hospitals to help care for other children with neonatal conditions, and to help their families as well.
Alicia has worked closely with staff at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, located just outside Sydney. They work to find the best ways to treat babies, to raise much-needed funds and to heighten awareness of the needs of children and families.
A collaboration with parent advisory groups and private supporters has resulted in a partnership that transformed the way babies would receive critical care in Australia. One of those partners was Alicia’s employer, Amway.
To learn about the partnership firsthand, we visited the Grace Centre for Newborn Care at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. At the Grace Centre, lifesaving care is provided for babies who are born with serious conditions. They need specialised care in the earliest days, along with a support infrastructure for their worried parents and families.
The first thing we saw was an area that Amway employees helped to renovate, which allowed parents a respite from their time in the Intensive Care Unit. We were surprised to meet a married couple there, who were also staff members of the hospital. The couple had been on leave to spend time with their newborn baby, when she suddenly needed medical attention. Their baby had collapsed and was unable to breathe without the aid of a ventilator and intensive care. The parents soon found themselves as recipients of the same services they normally provide to others.
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead provides innovative and award-winning care that is driving advances in medical science and technology, along with an integrated system of parent and volunteer engagement through advisory councils and best practice research. The care at Westmead helps to save the lives of children from across Australia and the Pacific with the help of supporters like Amway.
Amway is not a medical services provider, so we may have never become connected to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead if it were not for our Amway Business Owner and employee volunteers, and advocates like Alicia Wood.
In Australia, as in other parts of the world, Amway and its employees identify the greatest needs in our local communities and draw on every resource to respond. Every day, one person at a time, one by one.
Thanks to Kevin Lowe and Antonia Krunes for sharing this story.