Baby Nellie’s Miraculous Journey

21 Jun 2024

Used to the familiar rhythm of full-term pregnancies and healthy newborns, local mum Jess Sumpton found herself in uncharted territory with her fifth child, Nellie.

The bubbly and bright 31-year-old contracted a common infection from a bacteria many adults carry in their bodies.

Feeling unwell and dizzy while picking her sons up from school, Jess’s husband James took her to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH) – unaware of the dramatic turn their lives were about to take.

Jess Sumpton and Family

“I had what they call Group B Streptococcus which occurs in around 33 percent of pregnancies, however it actually turned septic,” Jess says.

"Somehow it got into my womb and so I was really sick in the birth suite.

“They brought the ICU team up and I guess at the time I didn't realise how sick I was."

The situation escalated quickly, and on March 28 doctors told the pregnant mum that her baby needed to be delivered – at just 29 weeks.

"The antibiotics weren’t fixing it, so the only way to save us was to take her out.

"We just made it at 29 weeks and five days – anything earlier and we would have been taken Brisbane.

“With the four boys, I don’t know how we would have managed that."

As Jess recovered from the emergency delivery, James was told staff were ‘working’ on their newborn daughter who weighed just 1.6kg.

"A couple of hours after she was born, she had a bubble in her lung, and they had to put in a tube to save her life."

GM5 Baby Nellie

“One of the doctors told me ‘your baby is poorly’ and said she’d stay with Nellie throughout that first night to look after her.”

Nellie's early days were fraught with medical interventions.

“I needed to see her because I only saw her for a couple of seconds until she was taken away.

"When I did, she had tubes everywhere – she had a chest tube, she was intubated.”

The uncertainty was unbearable for Jess and James.

“I wanted to ask every day – is she going to be okay, but I couldn’t ask if she was going to survive,” Jess admits.

With the help of a breathing and feeding tube, medications and specialist equipment, Nellie’s condition began to improve.

"We could only touch her through the humidi-crib - it was two weeks until we could hold her.

“Seeing all the other mums being able to hold their babies during those first weeks, that was hard."

Managing Nellie's needs in the Neonatal Unit at SCUH alongside those of her four boys under the age of nine at home was a constant juggling act for the Sumption’s.

"The juggle between the boys and Nellie and trying to weigh up my time – I felt guilty either way – but the nurses in Neonatal were phenomenal, they were like her aunties in there.

“The nurses and doctors, they are incredible."

Jess Sumpton and Family with 92.7MIXFM

With Nellie now healthy and thriving at home with her doting big brothers, Jess is sharing her story to raise funds for an $85,000 MRI-compatible ventilator for newborns through 92.7 MIX FM’s Give Me 5.

Proceeds from the annual appeal are directed to local hospital charity, Wishlist.

"For babies like Nellie – it would mean not having to take these little babies to Brisbane to have an MRI done,” Jess says.

“Seeing how little and fragile these babies are - to be taken to Brisbane just for that, and having a family at home – it’s stressful."

As Nellie grows stronger, Jess is grateful for neonatal services and equipment close to home.

“We are a growing population, and this equipment will definitely help many families.”

Click here to donate or attend a Give Me 5 fundraising event, or purchase a ticket in the Wishlist Caloundra Cup $100,000 cash grab.

92.7 MIX FM's Give Me 5 Wish List

  • An $85,000 MRI-compatible ventilator to benefit newborns.
  • Establishing a Dads Group at Wishlist Centre to support new dads and keep families together.
  • Chronic Illness Peer Support Program for 12-25 year olds living with chronic health illness.
  • Continuation of the Sunshine Coast Clown Doctors service.
  • Interactive waiting area for young outpatients at SCUH.
  • Continuation of the Calm Fairies service at SCUH.
  • Therapy dogs.
  • Accommodation to keep families together during a health crisis.

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