KEEPING up with her big siblings is top priority for Havana Neal.
Most of the time this energetic toddler manages it, never trailing far behind Ayrton, 6, and Sabah, 4.
But one awkward backyard fall landed Havana in an operating theatre when she was 16 months old.
At first, parents Wayne and Sarah didn’t know anything was broken. Havana didn’t complain of pain, and her grizzles were put down to tiredness after a typically active Saturday.
“But then her arm started to swell and a big lump came up,” Mr Neal recalls.
The Altona Meadows dad took his youngest child into the emergency department at Sunshine Hospital and, shortly after, a double break to her right forearm was confirmed. That diagnosis didn’t stop the bubbly pre-schooler from high-fiving the nurses in the children’s ward that night, according to dad, and chirpily heading to surgery first thing the next morning.
Surgeons repaired the mid-shaft breaks on Havana’s radius and ulna before setting the arm in above-elbow plaster.
Not that Havana thought that having her preferred arm immobilised was a big problem.
“She was a bit tentative at the start, but the plaster didn’t really bother her,” Mr Neal says. “Soon she realised it was more of a weapon against her big brother and sister.”
After seven weeks in the cast – and several check-ups at the children’s fracture clinic at Sunshine Hospital – doctors were happy to report Havana’s arm had healed perfectly.
It’s a story that is played out thousands of times every year in the extremely busy paediatric outpatient clinics.
Francis Sweeney, clinical coordinator, Children’s Specialist Clinics, Sunshine Hospital, says there were 5577 patient appointments in 2017 alone.
“The majority of fractures are of the wrist, with elbow fractures a close second,” Mr Sweeney said.
“During the winter months we have fewer fractures, but come spring the numbers increase again.”
The Greatest Need Project is a story-sharing website with two major goals – to help patients facing significant hardship and disadvantage, and to facilitate research, at Western Health.
Havana’s family is sharing her story in a bid to help those at Western Health who need it most.
By making a donation on Havana’s behalf – and sharing her story on social media – you are making a difference too. Thank you.