‘My baby turned blue in my arms’
The first time Susan held her baby, tiny Carla turned blue in her arms.
Her baby had to be taken from her and revived by hospital staff. Carla had already been in intensive care for four weeks at that point, and was given a slim chance of survival.
At birth, baby Carla's heart was at risk of exploding due to pulmonary hypertension. Her tiny lungs were also being crushed by her diaphragm.
Mum Susan says she will never forget the 12 weeks she spent in the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne after her daughter's birth.
Twenty weeks into her pregnancy the single mum was told her baby had only a one in three chance of surviving once born.
At her 20 week scan, she was given a prognosis doctors said led to 70 per cent of women terminating their pregnancy.
"I looked at it as a 30 per cent chance of survival," mum Susan told news.com.au. "People buy Tatts lotto tickets with a one in however-many million chance of winning.
"I thought, I'm going to go with those odds. I just thought, she'll guide me."
Susan says the support she received from staff at the Royal Children's Hospital was crucial because at the time she felt she was carrying a "ticking time bomb".
This year she is asking people to donate to the Good Friday Appeal which raises money directly for the Royal Children's Hospital to help family and patient care.
Baby Carla would be born with a malformed upper body and without the left side of her diaphragm. Her internal organs were nestled in the cavity of her chest.
She was taken to the Royal Children's Hospital at four hours old and put on life support and breathing apparatus to keep her stable. Cables and tubes monitoring her breathing and blood flow snaked from her fragile body.
Five days after she was born, when doctors thought newborn Carla was stable enough, she was taken into surgery.
But it was just the beginning of a roller coaster fight for survival for the tiny baby.
Nurses and doctors had discussed the possibility of turning off her ventilators, and began preparing Susan for the worst.
But it was at that point that hospital staff decided her baby needed another week to show improvement.
"Four hours before we planned to turn the machines off, they said we could give her another week," Susan said.
It was a week that made the difference, with the tiny baby finally beginning a turn around that would lead to her recovery.
"She is a real miracle child," Susan said.
After eight more weeks in hospital, baby Carla had recovered enough to be able to come home.
Carla, now a cheeky two and a half year old, has a synthetic patch that imitates the left portion of her diaphragm, and keeps her organs in place. She has recovered with minimal injury, and takes no medication.
"As a two and a half year old, she is so strong. She is so strong willed, and that proves she wouldn't be here if she didn't have that drive and will to live."
Susan told news.com.au she never could have made it though without the support of the RCH staff, and the Good Friday Appeal, which raises funds for the hospital.
She hopes that this Friday Australians can take the time to donate to the grassroots campaign to help sick Aussie kids.
The Good Friday Appeal is the largest fundraiser for The Royal Children's Hospital and is in its 88th year. Funds from this year's Good Friday Appeal will go towards patient and family centred care, equipment and technology, research and leadership, and education and training.
More than 100,000 volunteers each year help make possible the Good Friday Appeal which last year raised a record $18,043,251.
More than $345 million has been raised for the benefit of sick children since the appeal began in 1931.
To donate to the Good Friday Appeal and support the Royal Children's Hospital to help more children like Carla, click here.