Graphic: Baby Mack

Mack needed heart surgery at only 3-days-old


1 Nov 2017

The Flying Doctor is close to completing one of the most significant aircraft upgrades in Queensland's history. Only one hurdle remains - and we need the help of the Queensland community to overcome it by Christmas.

Please will you donate generously to purchase a Stretcher Transfer System for our final new King Air B350 aircraft? 

Your gift will help us continue to save lives like baby Mack's in the New Year. 

Mack and parents
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Shelley and her partner Brendan live in Boulia, an isolated outback town that has no birthing facilities. So when she reached the eighth month of her first pregnancy in July, she and her partner, Brendan, decided to move in with her uncle in Townsville.

A month later, just two days after her due date, she gave birth to Mack, a beautiful baby boy who appeared to be in perfect health.

For the first few hours, everything seemed perfect and Mack's mum and dad were blissfully happy. But by the evening, there seemed to be something wrong with Mack. 

Mack stopped feeding and over the next 24 hours, his pulse weakened - and Shelley and Brendan's only child was in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) fighting for his life.

Although Mack's doctors feared something was very wrong with his heart, they were unable to say for certain what it was. All they knew was that he needed immediate surgery in Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital if he was to stand a chance. 

And so it was that, despite all Shelley's precautions, the Flying Doctor and Townsville Hospital Neonatal Retrieval Team were asked to carry out an emergency 1,300km transfer of Mack when he was just two days old. 

Before the Townsville Hospital Neonatal Retrieval Team and our Flight Nurse could depart, first we had to load Mack, the neonatal cot he was in and hundreds of kilos of life support equipment safely on board. It was a task that would have been difficult at best without the use of a specialised hydraulic Stretcher Transfer System (STS). 


An STS is a collection of advanced technologies that work seamlessly together to ensure vulnerable patients like Mack can be transferred smoothly and swiftly into aircraft. 

When it comes to transferring patients as seriously ill as Mack, STS are as essential as our aircraft's wings. Quite simply, we cannot carry out emergency transfers efficiently without them on our B350 aircraft. 

Which is why we're asking for help from the generous Queensland community to raise the $535,000 we need to purchase an STS for the last of our fleet of B350 aircraft. 

Please will you donate a gift before Christmas so that we can get the aircraft in the air and helping to save lives as soon as possible in the new year?

The STS you will help us fund is identical to the one we used to transfer Mack to Brisbane earlier this year. 

It will ensure that critically ill patients from across Queensland are given the best possible chance of getting to where they need to be in time to save their lives. 

In Mack's case, it took just two hours to fly him from Townsville to Brisbane - a journey that would have taken 15 hours by road. And as a result, specialist paediatric surgeons were able to carry out open-heart surgery on Mack and remove what turned out to be a blood clot in his heart before it was too late. 


Today, Mack is well on the road to a complete recovery, and Shelley and Brendan are looking forward to their first Christmas with their son. Their family is still together and having a wonderful time - thanks in part to the STS that helped make Mack's emergency flight possible. 

Please help us make many more happy endings like this possible in the new year. Donate a gift to the Flying Doctor today, so that we can fit out the last of our new King Air B350s and get it in the air as soon as possible. 

Thank you so much.