Mason, of Hervey Bay, is the true definition of a ‘little fighter’. Within 24 hours of he and his twin sister Chloe being born 10-weeks prematurely, Mason was diagnosed with a serious bowel defect and sent for surgery to have a colostomy bag put in.
That surgery was a success but seven months later, a second surgery to have the procedure reversed didn’t end so well. Soon after, Mason began feeling unwell; his temperature spiked, his belly ballooned and an angry red rash started to ravage his little body. An X-ray revealed there was something very wrong happening in his abdomen, and he was sent for emergency surgery so his doctors could investigate further. It was here that Mason was diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis – an extremely rare, fast-spreading, flesh-eating virus that occurs when bacteria enter the body.
Bacteria had spread from Mason’s bowels during his colostomy reversal, and doctors told his parents Lauren and his dad, Mitch, that Mason had a big fight on his hands to survive.
“Doctors told me that if we’d waited another hour for him to go into the emergency surgery, we would’ve lost him,” Lauren said.
Mason remained on life support in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for three weeks, undergoing several more surgeries to remove the necrotic (or ‘dead’) tissue in his abdomen and chest. With no time to figure out the exact bacteria attacking Mason’s flesh, doctors put him on a variety of antibiotics at once to fight the infection and, thankfully, he started to improve. “The doctors and nurses saved our baby boy,” Lauren said.
But Mason’s health challenges did not end there. While in PICU, Mason was also diagnosed with subglottic stenosis – a narrowing of the airway, and he still struggles with bowel obstructions as a result of the extensive surgeries on his abdomen.
“Mason will become short of breath and fatigued just from breathing. It’s an act that comes so easily to most kids, but he must work very hard at it. He continues to have operations on his airway around every eight weeks to keep his airway open.”
Mason, now three, also has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which requires intensive therapy, and he wears ankle-foot orthoses’ every day.
He will require life-long treatment for his condition, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, and speech therapy, but he remains a happy toddler who loves playing, story time, and “isn’t one to shy away from a good cuddle”.
“Mason was born fighting for his life, and his bravery and courage have carried him on throughout his three years. He’s always surrounded by people who love him, support him, and believe in him, and so he keeps on fighting,” Lauren said.
“Throughout it all, our family have learnt strength we didn’t even think possible. Each moment you have with your child is precious and an absolute gift. It’s important that we as parents trust our instincts, because we know our children better than anyone – we are their best advocate.”