Each beauty that graces the cover of Box Magazine is given the opportunity to allocate funding for a cause close to their heart, to support sick and disadvantaged kids in need. Spring/Summer 15 cover girl Melinda Kemp conquered the Power Issue, and she nominated Sydney Children's Hospital (SCH) to receive an incredible $10,000 grant.
The money has secured a Cough Assist Machine for the hospital, which supports children with conditions that have weakened their respiratory systems. Physiotherapist Kylie French from the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Team at SCH knows how important these machines are for her patients with acquired and traumatic brain injuries. "[The machine] assists staff to help these children overcome their respiratory illnesses in an effective, comfortable way," Kylie says.
Other alternatives can be invasive and distressing; this equipment is beneficial to both cure and prevent respiratory complications. "[It] works by pushing air into the child's lungs to fully inflate them," Kylie explains. "Then, as the child coughs, the machine rapidly sucks air out." Any mucus is removed in this process and in turn helps the child breathe.
Young Lewis was born with a mitochondrial condition, which doesn't allow his body to produce energy the way it needs. In August 2015, Lewis was rushed to hospital when he stopped breathing, as his body was exhausted from fighting Influenza B. Lewis remained at SCH for four and a half months as tests revealed he had suffered from several stokes. He's now entirely dependent, unable to walk, eat or do many things for himself.
Whilst in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at SCH, Lewis used the Cough Assist Machine four times a day, as he was unable to clear his lungs. "After six weeks in ICU he was breathing independently and the machine helped in that process," Lewis' dad Andrew explains. While seeing Lewis go through this process has been heartbreaking for the family, they are thankful for the staff at SCH and all they have done in helping his rehabilitation. "As difficult as the circumstances were, he enjoyed going to Occupational Therapy and physio, and the therapists and their helpers enjoyed working with him," Andrew says.
Lewis loves getting in the pool when he can, being read to, and watching his favourite teams in the NRL and AFL. "We are as a family learning to adjust to this situation, but having nearly lost him we are just thankful he is still here," Andrew says. "We also hope that he will continue to make progress and get the most out of the opportunities he has."
"SCH is so grateful when equipment like the Cough Assist Machine is donated," Kylie says. Without funding, the hospital would be unable to purchase these expensive resources that help special children like Lewis at their most vital moments.
You can help ToyBox International continue to fill grants for Sydney Children's Hospital and others by subscribing to Box Magazine today. Visit boxmagazine.com.au or call us on 1300 BOX MAG.
Words by Casey Vassallo
Photography by Carla Orsatti