Graphic: Ziarlah with her mum and RFDS flight nurse Jamie Corbett
Little Ziarlah Kennedy's first birthday should have been spent at home with her family and a birthday cake. But as it turned out, Ziarlah's mother, Melody McEwan, was just grateful that Ziarlah was alive and getting specialist care.
"Ziarlah had been sick with breathing issues before, but nothing was diagnosed," explains Melody, who lives with her partner and their family at Walgett.
"When she got sick again the day before her birthday I knew it wasn't just a cold. She was going blue. We took her to the local hospital but there were no specialists there. They did a video-call to Dubbo Base Hospital so the paediatrician in Dubbo could observe her. She was put on oxygen to help her breathe. The paediatrician wanted her in Dubbo for more treatment."
With Dubbo three hours by road from Walgett and a dangerous drive at night, Melody was grateful that the Flying Doctor was booked to collect them early the next morning.
"There are lots of kangaroos and road kill on that road," says Melody. "It would have been very dangerous for me driving for hours with my baby struggling to breathe. It's very lucky that the Flying Doctor was able to fly us there."
The aircraft was despatched early the next morning to collect Ziarlah and her mother. Dubbo Base flight nurse Jamie Corbett was on board.
"Ziarlah was in a stable condition but needed oxygen therapy and cardiac monitoring throughout the flight," explains Jamie. "She was diagnosed with bronchiolitis, a respiratory disease."
"It was good to go with Ziarlah to Dubbo and get her properly diagnosed and treated," says Melody.
"I was so worried about her before when she'd get sick. It's so much easier now I know what she had. Jamie and I had a bit of a chat on the flight, which gave me some reassurance.
"It's really good that the Flying Doctor service is available. We couldn't cope without them."