Clare's story

Date published

27 Aug 2019

“I knew that Clare’s appendix could rupture and the flood waters had cut us off. I was terrified we were stranded.” 

- Rebecca O’Sullivan, mum of five-year-old Clare, who became dangerously ill with appendicitis during the devastating floods that drenched Queensland earlier in February.

Clare and her family

Five-year-old Clare O’Sullivan used to dream about rain.

Growing up on Jumba Station, a remote cattle station in North Queensland, Clare could only imagine what it might be like to see water fall from the sky, to catch raindrops on her tongue or to splash in puddles like the children in her books. You see, her outback home was suffering one of the longest droughts in the region’s history.

And then, it finally happened. The weatherman on TV announced that Clare’s lifelong wait for rain was about to end. Which would have been wonderful news, were it not for two terrible things. 

The first was that the gathering storm was forecast to be one of the most dangerous in Queensland’s history. 

The second was that by sheer bad luck, inside her painful belly at that very moment, Clare’s appendix was preparing to burst – threatening her life hundreds of flooded kilometres from the nearest surgical hospital.

Clare onboard the RFDS aircraft

As the waters rose around Charters Towers Hospital, where Clare was stranded, her appendix was swelling inside her abdomen causing excruciating pain.

Doctors feared that without urgent surgery, Clare’s appendix could rupture with potentially fatal consequences for the little girl.

Clare needed to get to Townsville Hospital as soon as possible – despite every road leading to the city being submerged under several feet of water.

With no way of making the journey by ambulance, the Flying Doctor was called. And thanks in no small part to the generosity of people like you, our Townsville aeromedical team had the training and equipment they needed to fly into the storm and rush Clare to Townsville Hospital before her appendix could burst.

Clare pictured with the toy and blanket provided by RFDS supporters

Clare has since made a full recovery, her spirits undampened by her frightening ordeal. 

The ability of the Flying Doctor to keep going at times of disaster is in no small part down to the generosity of incredible Flying Doctor supporters. 

It’s  only with the help of valuable donations that we are able to meet the cost of equipping and training our Pilots, our Flight Nurses and our Medical Officers with the tools and skills they need in order to keep us safe when we need their help the most.

Please help equip our teams with everything they need to keep Queenslanders like Clare safe from disaster by donating today.