Miraculous recovery for boy doctors feared would lose sight
DOCTORS feared little Harvey Atkinson would never again see properly after a trellis stabbed his eye in a freak bicycle accident.
But the Curra boy had the gift of full sight for his fifth birthday yesterday, and celebrated alongside LifeFlight officers who helped him through the ordeal.
Doctors say Harvey came within millimetres of suffering permanent eye damage.
Harvey's scream on September 8 was the first sign something terrible was happening.
His mother Vicky Atkinson ran outside to see her son had fallen onto a metal trellis in the garden while riding his bike.
The trellis had punctured the boy's left eyelid.
Mrs Atkinson immediately called an ambulance, before a second, more emotional call to her husband Shaun, who was working in Maroochydore over 100km away.
She sat with Harvey, keeping him calm until the ambulance arrived to take them to Gympie Hospital.
"I stayed on the line with Triple-0 until the ambulance arrived but there wasn't much first aid to do because there was no external bleeding," Mrs Atkinson said.
"I just tried to keep calm and make sure he was comfortable.
"I took a photo of Harvey's eye while we waited, which ended up being very helpful for the doctors to see his eye after the accident happened, because by the time we got to Gympie Hospital it had swelled completely shut."
On arrival at Gympie Hospital, Harvey was transferred by Sunshine Coast-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane, which landed around 11.30pm.
"The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew were fantastic. They talked me through everything and were very caring and helpful," Mrs Atkinson said.
"Being able to fly Harvey directly to the Lady Cilento Hospital was such a great emergency service.
"He was so exhausted and in pain by this point and the chopper delivered us to the hospital hours faster than driving, which helped his chances of a full recovery."
Scans revealed Harvey had a fractured eye socket, large blood mass and damage to the eye lid, and doctors were concerned for his eye sight.
Harvey went into surgery the following afternoon and, given the circumstances, the family received great news: Harvey would not lose sight in his left eye.
Miraculously, there was also no damage to his eyeball and the fractured eye socket and eyelid would heal over time.
"I don't know how many times I'd been told by doctors that Harvey is one very lucky boy," Mrs Atkinson said.
"The surgeon said that if the metal trellis had entered one or two millimetres either side, he probably would have lost his sight."
After just five days in hospital, Harvey was allowed to go home and Mrs Atkinson since said his recovery was "going great".
"Harvey is healing really well with only a small scar on his eyelid," she said.
"He was back on his bike within a month and I'm very grateful for the care he received.
Harvey and his family visited the Maroochydore RACQ LifeFlight base yesterday to thank the crew, three months after they airlifted him to hospital.
She said she couldn't thank LifeFlight services enough.
"You don't realise what these amazing services do until it affects you," Mrs Atkinson said.
"It can be the difference between life or death and thank you just is not enough.
"I now make monthly donations to RACQ LifeFlight Rescue to make sure this vital service continues."
Sunshine Coast-based pilot Paul Costa said it was great to see Harvey healthy and happy at the reunion and to know the LifeFlight crew played an important part in getting him the care he needed.
"It's amazing to see him in such good health now and it's pretty special for us all at LifeFlight to know that one of our crews played a part in the critical hours after his accident to get him to specialist care and to ensure that he received the best care available which maximised his chances of a full recovery," Mr Costa said.
"The crews love it when patients come back to the base and say thanks. It helps us to realise the vital role we play and how much the community values what we do. It makes everything seem worthwhile."