Into the eye of the storm

Date published

13 Jan 2020

Clare and her family were at a friend’s house when she started vomiting and complaining of a stomach-ache.

A call to the Flying Doctor telehealth service confirmed Rebecca’s fear – her daughter’s appendix was infected and could rupture at any minute. 

Rebecca had experienced appendicitis herself as a child and knew it could be life-threatening without medical help.

As they arrived at Charters Towers Hospital, a 90-minute drive from their Jumba Station home, the first rain for five years began to fall. And fall. The shower turned into a deluge, quickly making the roads impassable. 

The doctors immediately called Retrieval Services Queensland to urgently transfer Clare to Townsville Hospital with the Flying Doctor.

It was a day of firsts for a girl who had never flown or seen rain before.

Growing up in the Outback, Clare knew all about the Flying Doctor. Rebecca recalls:

“When she heard we were going on a trip with the Flying Doctor, she was beside herself with excitement. She was in loads of pain, but I think she would have sprung from her stretcher and leapt on board if we’d have let her.”

 Because of you, our team had the equipment and expertise they needed to get Clare to hospital quickly and safely.

Clare before her operation

Once there, doctors at Townsville Hospital worked quickly. With her appendix successfully removed, Clare made a complete recovery.

But, when she and mum Rebecca returned home, the full impact of the flooding was immediately obvious. Although their station had been spared, neighbouring properties to the north and west had been completely devastated, with buildings destroyed and thousands of cattle lost.

It gave Rebecca another reason to be grateful for the Flying Doctor:

“Some people forget that when the storm has blown itself out and the floodwaters evaporated, the damage remains – both physical and mental. The Flying Doctor doesn’t forget that, and I am thankful for that.”

Your support meant we were there on that stormy day in February when Clare needed us, and it means we are still there, nearly a year later, providing life-changing mental health support through our Outback Mental Health services.

Clares birthday

Today, Clare loves nothing better than sharing the story of her adventure with her family and friends at school and proudly showing off her scar.

And Rebecca is forever grateful for the help her daughter received and for the continued support you are giving to her recovering community.

"Because of you, my daughter Clare got the emergency care she needed. You're also helping my community recover from the floods that devastated our land last year. I cannot thank you enough."