It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to have a sick child and no explanation.
The nightmare became a reality for Wagga mother, Colleen Atkinson and her son August, taking them on a long journey.
Less than one-year-old, August was battling unexplained temperatures and flu-like symptoms which saw the mother and son travel to Sydney Randwick Hospital to find out the cause.
“When I realised we had to go to Sydney, I was worried about how we were going to afford it,” she said.
“I had only just gone back to work after maternity-leave, so I had no leave.
“August is a twin so it made it a lot harder, I had to leave the other kids at home to be able to go with him.”
After extensive tests were run in Sydney, Ms Atkinson found out August had been diagnosed with meningitis.
“It was so daunting and I was there by myself in a strange city,” she said.
“Wagga is one of the big hospitals for Junee and the other areas and it would be so good to have the support here.”
Ms Atkinson said the stress of the trips and the cost was made easier with the services provided by Little Wings.
The organisation offers a free flight and ground transport service for seriously ill children and their families who may need to travel to children’s hospitals in Sydney and Newcastle for treatment every few weeks.
“Being a country girl I'm not used to such a big city and I don’t know how I would have gotten around if I had to go up there myself,” she said.
“It took the weight off my shoulders to not have to worry about it.”
The Atkinsons spent a month in Sydney the first time and have a third visit scheduled in a fortnight, but the prognosis is looking good.
“Last time we were there, the doctors were pleased with his progress,” she said.
“The support they have in Sydney is amazing from the social worker who organised Little Wings for us to the ‘nannies’ who would sit with August so I had time for a shower and coffee.”
So far Little Wings has flown over 180 seriously ill children out of Wagga, with the demand for flights increasing daily.
Hockey NSW named Little Wings their official charity for 2018 to 2019 and the State Competition’s charity round for the Under 13 Boys Hockey will be held on Saturday July 14 at Jubliee Park.