Smile helps sick kids


THE smile of a child in hospital has inspired donations to help other sick children in hospital.
Sam Breckenridge, was just four months old when a doctor discovered he was weeks away from blindness.
His story, shared through the Woolworths Token campaign in 2016, helped generate almost $42,000 for other sick kids in the Far North.
This year the funds, distributed through the Children’s Hospital Foundation, bought paediatric colonoscopy equipment for Innisfail Hospital.
Sam had a cataract in his eye and required urgent surgery. “Being told your perfect four-month-old baby had a cataract was shocking – I thought only older people got cataracts, not my baby,” Sam’s mother Sonia said. “The doctor said we needed to be in Brisbane immediately, and before we knew it, we were flying to Brisbane for an operation.” Sam was soon in the operating theatre, and had a hard plastic cover over his eye. The procedure went well, and Sam’s family returned home to Cairns. “The doctor was relieved – Sam may have been blind within three to four weeks, had he not had the surgery.” Sam’s family had a long and winding road ahead, with patching and incorporating a hard contact lens into his life. “Sam was very patient and understood what we had to do to make him better – thanks to his determination, his check-ups are now very minimal and we can go back to living a normal life.”
Sam now aged 10, enjoys school, kicking a football around in AFL training and playing with his friends on X-Box.
Innisfail Hospital Theatre Nurse Unit Manager Donna Low said the extra paediatric colonoscope, which also could be used for adults, would enable local patients to receive a continuous service.
“This will prevent the need to cancel a patient’s procedure when a scope needs to be sent away for servicing, as this reduces the number of scopes available for several weeks. This equipment will allow us to provide a service to our local community without interruptions,” Ms Low said.
Cassowary Coast has a population of 30,000, and 9200 of whom are 18 and under, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Innisfail Hospital is now home to two of these colonoscopes, thanks also to fundraising by the local community through the Innisfail Friends of the Foundation.

Photos: TOP: Sam Breckenridge.

ABOVE: Woolworths Innisfail staff Cassie Tanti, Tricia Biancotti, Riley Harrison, Ritu Saini and Innisfail Hospital Theatre Nurse Unit Manager Donna Low.

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