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“We knew she was in safe hands…”

L ittle Calvary’s emergency dash as a newborn took her a lot further afield: almost 3000 kilometres from home.

Each year, when their daughter’s birthday rolls around, Sofia and Matt Gibbons take a special moment to appreciate the impact of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in their family’s journey. Now a healthy three-year-old, Calvary’s entry into the world threw the family’s life into chaos. 

The Perth couple knew their little one would require life-saving surgery when she was born. Sofia’s 20-week scan alerted them that Calvary had an interrupted aortic arch and holes in her heart (ventricular and atrial septal defects). 

Sofia had planned to travel over east to deliver the baby at the Royal Children’s Hospital where specialist care for her daughter’s condition was available. But Calvary had other plans, arriving prematurely at 35 weeks and weighing only 2.1kgs.

“We did not anticipate the situation of our gorgeous girl, Calvary, arriving early. The panic set in straight away on how to get her over to Melbourne for the open-heart surgery she required.” Sofia said.

At a time of complete distress, Sofia and Matt had to leave their other four children behind. The Royal Flying Doctor Service transported Calvary from Perth’s Princess Margaret Hospital to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne so she could receive the life-saving surgery. 

“The Royal Flying Doctor Service were there for us at a drop of a hat! We were so appreciative to have them there for us at a time when we didn’t anticipate needing them.” 

“It was very nerve-wracking to have our daughter on a flight across the country without being by her side. We knew she was in safe hands and her nurse sent us pictures of Calv during the flight to reassure us that she was okay.”

When Calvary arrived in Melbourne, she was sent straight into the theatre for open-heart surgery.

“Our hearts were shattered to see Calvary wheeled into the operating theatre.”

After six weeks away, Calvary was returned to her home in Perth to properly meet her siblings for the first time.

At seven months old, she had her second open heart surgery in Perth.  Baby Calvary experienced cardiac arrest and a stroke during the procedure. Her recovery was complex but the princess warrior persevered and it was a successful operation. These days, Sofia reports that despite Calvary’s rocky start to life, it hasn’t deterred her from being the lively child she is today. Three-year-old Calvary is a bubbly character who enjoys playing with her siblings and friends.

“The Royal Flying Doctor Service makes all the difference to so many families. They have played such an important part in our family’s journey and have helped us get to where we are today.”

Baby Calvary in hospital

It is the support of kind people like you that enables the Flying Doctor to provide  life-saving care to little ones like Calvary, and the families who love them.

Please send your Christmas gift today. Thank you for helping to keep the Flying Doctor in the air this Christmas!

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The Royal Flying Doctor Service is committed to eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of healthcare.
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The Royal Flying Doctor Service acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation.