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Jacqui and Eleanor's story

3-minute read

Northern Territory mother Jacqui Sheehan has always kept the healthdirect magnet on her fridge.

Jacqui has called the helpline several times about minor ailments and for general advice for herself, her husband Troy and their children, two-year-old Ollie, and one-year-old Eleanor.

Jacqui, her husband Troy and their baby Eleanor.

Jacqui credits one call with saving baby Eleanor's life when the operator recognised her symptoms as life-threatening and called an ambulance.

Eleanor was subsequently diagnosed with salmonella meningitis and had a lengthy stay in hospital, with weeks of home care afterwards.

“We'd had a gastro-bug in the house a couple of weeks prior to Eleanor getting sick. When she wasn't drinking her milk or being very interactive with us, my husband and I assumed she was still getting over the bug,” Jacqui recalled.

“She was just a bit off, not really herself, and I had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that something wasn't right.”

“That evening, after a bath, I left her swaddled in her towel, laying down in the lounge room while I tended to her brother. When I walked back into the room she looked green in colour and her skin was blotchy. She was really still. I grabbed the healthdirect number from the fridge and called.”

“The operator asked me some pointed questions like, ‘Is she responding?’, ‘Is she drinking her milk?’ and ‘Is she sitting up on her own?’ When I said she wasn't, the operator told me she was going to call an ambulance straight away. By now Eleanor had a really high temperature and a swollen fontanelle.”

Within 90 minutes, Eleanor was rushed to hospital where she underwent several tests and was diagnosed with a rare form of meningitis. An intravenous line was inserted in her chest and the family spent 16 days in hospital with her.

“If it wasn't for that operator reacting so quickly and noticing the symptoms of her being limp and non-responsive as serious, then we probably would have left her until the morning and by then she might not have made it,” Jacqui said.

“That operator saved my baby's life.”

Eleanor is once again a happy and bouncy baby, and after their traumatic time Jacqui and her family are enjoying being back at their home in Darwin.

“I am so glad there was someone who knew better than I did and was able to help me and point me in the right direction because I wouldn't have known what to do,” Jacqui said.

“I am forever grateful to that phone operator. She was professional, courteous and most of all, knowledgeable. Once she made the decision to call the ambulance, she saved my baby's life.”

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IMPORTANT: This is a personal story and testimonial. It is for general information only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Last reviewed: January 2018

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