A little boy who spent only 36 hours on this earth is helping to create better outcomes and experiences for babies, and their families, in the Flinders Medical Centre Neonatal Unit.
Arthur William McConachy was born at Flinders on 28 February 2021.
When Arthur was born, doctors discovered he had experienced a lack of oxygen at some stage during the pregnancy. His organs were too damaged to recover and, sadly, he passed away two days later in the arms of his parents, Huw and Steph.
In a show of support from afar, a friend in Singapore – where Huw (pictured left) and Steph (pictured right) had lived for three years – set up an In Loving Memory page dedicated to Arthur with a goal of raising $1,000 (you can view Arthur's In Loving Memory page here).
About six weeks after Arthur passed away, Huw and Steph took ownership of Arthur’s In Loving Memory page and directed their grief into raising money for the Flinders Neonatal Unit.
“We couldn’t save Arthur, but we could help other families in similar situations to us and other babies,” Steph says.
“We had the worst possible thing happen to us, but we focused on how we could channel our love and our parenting energy into something positive.”
In a reflection of their incredible humility, Huw and Steph were grateful for the care they received during their most difficult time.
“The effort that the doctors and nurses went to was just amazing. We wanted to give back because everyone gave so much to us, and went above and beyond,” says Huw.
“It’s also a nice way for us to celebrate Arthur.”
The couple talked with Dr Scott Morris, Interim Head of Unit, Neonatal Unit, and Flinders Foundation to find out the best way to support babies and families at Flinders.
Huw and Steph set a goal to raise $10,000 and asked the Neonatal Unit for suggestions of items they could fund. Instead of choosing just one or two items on the list, the driven and ambitious couple decided to revise their goal and fund all the equipment.
“In all, the items totalled $35,500, so I said, ‘Alright, that’s our target’.” Steph says, with a laugh.
“Huw thought I was crazy!”
Fundraising success ... and a new goal!
Huw and Steph shared the fundraising page to their networks and held a quiz night in their hometown of Port Elliot. Through hard work and the incredible support of the community, who donated prizes and silent auction items, the event was a huge success.
“It was amazing. We raised $16,000 on the night and had already hit our target,” Steph says.
“We went back to Flinders Foundation and the Neonatal Unit and asked, ‘if budget wasn’t a limit, what do you really want?’ They came back with a broader list of equipment and technology that added up to about $100,000 and we said, ‘Okay, we’ll raise $100,000 instead’.”
So far, Huw and Steph have raised more than $85,000 and are on track to reach their amazing goal of $100,000 by the end of the year – you can help them reach their goal by making a donation here.
Through their generosity, babies and families in the Flinders Neonatal Unit will benefit from a pre-term incubator, defibrillator machine, height-adjustable bassinet, breast milk pumps and milk warmers and a cooling machine, which is used to cool babies like Arthur who experience birth asphyxia.
The height-adjustable bassinet helps mums to more easily interact with their babies while they are in bed and makes it possible for parents to travel outside with their baby to other areas of the hospital.
“We’ve heard stories about people who have used the bassinet. Sadly, their babies have passed away, but because of this bassinet they were able to have some beautiful time with their babies on the roof-top garden. The bassinet isn’t life sustaining, but I know we cherish every moment we had with Arthur and to have your baby outside breathing fresh air with the sun on their back is lovely.
“Hearing those stories warms our hearts.”
"Arthur wasn’t here for very long, but he can have an impact and leave a legacy in that way. People won’t know it was him, but we do."