Doctor’s incredible act after tragic death of tiny baby
He looked after his tiny patient as attentively in death as in life, cradling her in his arms.
Queensland Children's Hospital intensive care specialist Adrian Mattke said it felt "normal and natural" to nurse newborn Rose Dagan after she died at just 20 days old.
"To me it was quite natural to be sitting there thinking: 'I'm still looking after Rose," Associate Professor Mattke said.
"I held her and I patted her. It was still a little bit: 'She's still here with me and we're still sitting here together.
"The death of a child is one of the worst things that can happen to a family. Rose's parents, Michelle and Daniel, didn't want her to be left alone and I thought: 'Of course, I'll be here for her because that's what's best for Rose and her family."
Prof Mattke, a deputy director of the QCH's paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), said that despite the best care and treatments, about 45 children lost their lives in the unit each year.
Rose died in the hospital's PICU in December, 2018.
When her parents finally had to leave her to pack up their emergency accommodation in the hospital after her death, Mrs Dagan asked the PICU team if they could make sure their baby was not alone.
They returned later to find their little girl snuggled in Dr Mattke's arms.
"It was beautiful," Mrs Dagan recalled.
Dr Mattke, a doctor for more than two decades, said treatment in PICU was as much about the family as the child.
"We work together with the families to try to achieve the best outcome for their child. Tragically, despite all of our efforts, death can't always be avoided," he said.
"The bravery of these families can never be underestimated. To see a family lose a child is heart wrenching. We form an intimate bond with the family and try to support them as much as we can.
"I remember so many of the children that I was involved with when they died. They have stayed with me."
Mrs Dagan fell pregnant with her daughter Eva, 18 months, within weeks of Rose's death.
The first people they told after seeing Eva's heartbeat on the ultrasound were the PICU team who had cared for Rose.
Mr and Mrs Dagan had returned to the QCH to see Rose's name on the "Giving Tree" outside the PICU after the family raised more than $10,000 in her name for the Children's Hospital Foundation.
"There were tears all round," Mrs Dagan said.
Rose's moving story is told in this week's Qweekend magazine. Read it here
Originally published as Doctor's incredible act after tragic death of tiny baby