Out of the Blue

Date published

21 Aug 2015

Young James Kavanagh was unaware of the medical 'time bomb' ticking inside his little body, until it revealed itself at the most unexpected time in a small country town.

James went off to school that morning, like every other morning – but with little idea of what lay ahead.

10-year-old James lives in Coffin Bay (46 kilometres from Port Lincoln on the west coast of SA's Eyre Peninsula) andattends a small country school nearby.

James recalls that during a typical school day, he was on the receiving end of an innocent schoolyard knock. Like most kids, he thought nothing of the bump and got through the rest of his school day. But in the early evening, back at his Coffin Bay home, his condition rapidly deteriorated.

"He started vomiting and couldn't even keep water down," recalls mum Lynette.

"So I called the after-hours GP, but became worried it was going to take too long, so we jumped in the car and headed straight to Port Lincoln Hospital."

The 45-kilometre drive to the region's major hospital took almost an hour, the family consoling James and strugglingwith their own fears as they made their way to help.

On arrival at Port Lincoln Hospital, James was seen by nurses who at first suspected a hernia.

But a disturbing revelation lay in store – an ultrasound examination revealed a worrying irregularity within his abdomen.

"They discovered a mass around his kidney that appeared to have ruptured," Lynette said.

Medical staff quickly realised there was an urgent need for James to get emergency treatment at Adelaide's Women's andChildren's Hospital.

"Straight away they called for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) who came to rescue us very late that night – in fact by then it was the early hours of the following morning," Lynette said.

At around 3am James was in the care of the RFDS flight nurse and a MedSTAR retrieval team when the RFDS aircraft lifted off from Port Lincoln airport, headed for Adelaide.

Driving to Adelaide from Port Lincoln takes more than seven hours, yet the RFDS aircraft covers this ground in just 50minutes, a crucial time saving in a medical emergency. James was soon being wheeled into the Women's and Children's Hospital.

"That's where full scans revealed the extent of the damage," Lynette said. "It seems that James had had this growth for some time and the knock at school set off the rupture of this massive blood clot. Within 24 hours he was operated on and had the kidney removed."

James is recovering well and is back at school.

The family is grateful for the care provided by everyone involved in James' retrieval and treatment, well aware the outcome could have been worse without an urgent response and emergency surgery.

"It's amazing to think there are people would come at all hours of the day or night to rescue us.

"What if the RFDS wasn't there? I don't ever want to think about it.

"Thank goodness people do donate, because if it wasn't for that support we don't know where James would be."