Pictured: Kate and Maddie Nightingale (front, centre) with Wollongong Hospital children’s ward staff members Kim Bell and Fran Cervoni (front) and (back) Ebony Gardiner, Mercy Early, Dr Susie Piper and Joy Pfieffer prepare for the first Run Wollongong. Credit: GREG TOTMAN
Corrimal mother Kate Nightingale is urging community members to support a fund-raiser for Wollongong Hospital’s children’s ward after the professional treatment her daughter, Maddie, received when she was struck down by a mystery illness.
Ms Nightingale said if it weren’t for the quick diagnosis, prompt treatment and excellent care by staff at the children’s ward last month, her 23-month-old child might be completely paralysed.
‘‘Maddie was a healthy, fit girl one day and then the next day she woke up and she could no longer walk,’’ Ms Nightingale said.
‘‘We took her to the children’s ward and they did all these tests, which kept coming back clear but Maddie was not getting any better.
‘‘It was only the determination by Dr Susie Piper and her team to get to the bottom of it that resulted in Maddie’s diagnosis and quick treatment, which stopped the paralysis spreading to the rest of her body.’’
Maddie has Guillain-Barre syndrome, a form of nerve inflammation that results in a spreading paralysis. With treatment, most people recover from the condition – for which there is no cure – although it may take two years or more.
‘‘Maddie still can’t walk and it will take her some time to recover. But if it had been left untreated, I hate to think of what might have happened,’’ Ms Nightingale said.
She yesterday urged the community to get behind the first annual Run Wollongong event, which is being held on October 20 to raise funds for the redevelopment of the children’s ward.
Hospital staff make up a good proportion of the more than 1300 already registered to run in the event, which will also fund a purpose-built children’s assessment unit in North Wollongong.
Dr Piper, head of paediatrics, is doing the six-kilometre walk with her daughter – in their onesies; it is a fun run, after all.
‘‘Run Wollongong is organised by the Cotton On Foundation, which aims to raise $1.8million in the next five years for the new assessment unit and redevelopment of the children’s ward,’’ she said.
‘‘We have plans ready to go, we just need the funding.’’
The Cotton On Foundation has implemented four fun runs across the country since 2009.
Operations manager Sam McGuane said the aim was to raise funds to provide the best healthcare facilities for young people in regional Australia.
Run Geelong, Victoria, attracted 2100 participants in its first year – now in its fifth year, the event has raised more than $1.2million.
Run Wollongong sign-ups are currently at 1337 with $59,698 raised so far but Mr McGuane is hoping to break all records and achieve at least 3000 participants.