Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

Erin's Story

Our research at CMRI helps children born decades later to have happy, fulfilling lives. One of those children is Erin Hutchinson. Born at just 25 1/2 weeks and weighing a mere 597 grams, she was given a 5 percent chance of survival.


CMRI helped pioneer neonatal intensive care units — a key element in the improved survival of premature babies like Erin.


This story was told by Erin's father, Dean Hutchison.

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"Meet my little girl Erin. She’s the most outgoing, bubbly and sociable child I’ve ever known. And we almost lost her.

In 2006, my wife Kim was pregnant. We were doubly thrilled because we knew this was Kim’s only chance to have a baby. When she woke one night and said, “I’m feeling a bit off,” I wouldn’t normally have worried about it, but something made me sit up and take notice and we headed off to hospital to get it checked out.

On the way there, things went from not great to extremely bad in a matter of seconds.

Kim was screaming in agony in the car and when we got to hospital she started fitting. The doctors gave me two choices – stay at that hospital and save Kim but lose our baby, or risk moving them to Westmead to save them both, but with a 50/50 chance that neither of them would make it there.

I’m lucky I made the right choice.
 
Kim had an emergency C-section as soon as we got to Westmead, at only 25½ weeks into her pregnancy. She was placed in an induced coma while Erin was fighting for her life, so for three days I didn’t know whether either of them would make it home.

erin1-(1).bmpErin was so tiny – just 597 grams – that she was given only a five per cent chance of surviving. It was a heartbreaking percentage to deal with, but she was just a born fighter. Imagine a baby so small that my wedding ring could travel all the way up her arm to her shoulder. That was Erin.

Even while Kim was in a coma and Erin was struggling for every breath, I maintained an unusual level of optimism. Still, most nights were spent worrying and hoping. My way of coping was to immerse myself in information – that was my survival routine.

Erin’s specialists credited CMRI with some of the treatments we went through. CMRI’s research went a long way to establishing neonatology as a subspecialty. They helped pioneer neonatal intensive care units – a key element in the improved survival of premature babies like Erin; they helped introduce the principles of newborn care; and conducted cardiopulmonary studies in newborns.

A while after Kim and Erin came home from Hospital, I joined the team at CMRI as their Payroll Officer. I’d always donated to CMRI … and now I had real reasons to be grateful for their work."
 

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