On the morning of Friday 13 October 2017, four-year-old Mia Wilkinson had been playing happily with her cousins, but complained of a belly ache later that afternoon. By Sunday, she had been admitted into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with a diagnosis of sepsis. Mia spent ten days in PICU fighting for her life. The sepsis stopped Mia’s little heart, requiring her to be resuscitated, and rendering her unable to breathe without assistance.
During this period, Mia showed everyone what a tremendous fighter she was when her illness caused blood to stop circulating to both her hands and feet. On 10 November 2017, both Mia’s arms were amputated below the elbow. On 3 January 2018, Mia underwent additional major surgery to amputate both her legs.
Fast forward to today, and the Wilkinsons are adjusting to their new ‘normal’. Mia is a happy, healthy and cheeky little girl. She enjoys swimming lessons, her reading and writing skills have improved, and she has a wonderful and supportive group of friends and teachers at school.
“Mia can move around independently at home now, on her knees, or on a little ride-on toy car. She wears her prosthetic legs for short periods each day and, for the remainder of the time, she uses her wheelchair,” said Amy, Mia’s Mum.
One of the biggest challenges the Wilkinsons faced was that their family home was not adequately equipped to accommodate Mia, following her discharge from the hospital. They couldn’t afford the necessary modifications because of the high ongoing costs associated.
A family friend, Nan Ott, whose husband Alan is a member of Fraser Coast United Lodge suggested that Hand Heart Pocket might be able to assist. Nan made initial contact with Hand Heart Pocket and supported the Wilkinsons with their application.
In 2018 the Wilkinsons received $15,000 in Benevolence Assistance to complete the required modifications on their home. Mia now has a bathroom she can independently access and use. They’ve installed a large, wet shower area and mixer taps so Mia can shower herself without help.
“We also modified the doorway to remove the ‘lip’ between the living and wet area so Mia can ‘zoom’ in and out on her ride-on car. These may not seem like huge modifications to some people, but to us, they mean the world. Without the kindness and support from our local community, including Hand Heart Pocket and the Maryborough Freemasons, this journey would have been terribly lonely, sad and impossible. People have shown us so much overwhelming kindness.”
Over the long-term, Mia will face the challenges of continuing to increase her independence and find new ways for her to complete tasks, such as cooking and driving. She will also require revision surgery as her arm and leg bones grow.
“I am sure she will amaze us, as she already has. Every day we love Mia, cuddle her, hear her laugh, see her develop and we feel grateful she is alive. Instead of seeing what she has ‘lost’ we see what we ‘have’ – a beautiful little girl.”
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the organisation has helped 60 people doing it tough last financial year through their Benevolence Assistance program.
“It’s always lovely to see people doing well after going through a tough time, especially after having been there for them in their time of need, even in a small way,” he said.