BABY Harvey Hughes is eight months old but he’s packing his bags for his first trip home.
The quiet achiever on his hospital ward has been carefully ticking off a series of medical milestones so he can finally be reunited with his twin brother Archer.
Parents Debbie and Gavin were prepared for Harvey to have club feet, after his turned-in feet were revealed in prenatal scans.
But after his birth the medical surprises continued.
Harvey had emergency surgery on day two of life at the Royal Children’s Hospital to repair a hole in his intestines. Scans next revealed he has extra folds in the brain, which are likely to affect his respiration, swallowing and speech.
Harvey Hughes has been in hospital for the whole eight months of his life.
Harvey’s congenital vocal chord palsy means he can’t yet make any sound — not even a gurgle or a cry — and it’s not yet clear if he will ever be able to talk or eat.
But the ever-smiling infant has become a favourite among staff and volunteers on the Sugarglider ward.
His infectious personality and love of adult interaction defy the devastating checklist of health challenges.
“My husband says he doesn’t care if he can’t walk or do other things, just as long as he can smile,” Ms Hughes said. “And we got that wish. He has the world’s biggest smile every day.
“They say with all your senses, if you’re missing one then the others compensate. Maybe his sight and facial expression is making up for the fact he can’t speak or cry.
“We’ve had so many false starts to go home that we started to get paranoid that the nurses didn’t want him to go, because he’s so popular.”
For the past six months he has been in a series of week-long plaster casts, with each dressing change setting his tiny feet slightly more towards the desired angle.
He finally got his casts off this week, and will now wear boots attached to a bar brace, at first for 23 hours a day for the next three months.
But after his most recent surgery, which aimed to improve his ability to feed, the family are finally preparing to welcome Harvey home.
“Our hope is just to sit and cuddle our boys on the couch, and join the rest of the family in celebrations that he’s so far missed out on,” she said.
Originally published in the Herald Sun, Sunday March 11, 2018
Words: Brigid O’Connell
To read the original story, visit the Herald Sun website.
Update, 20 June 2018:
Harvey (left) is now at home with his twin brother Archer, and continues to be an outpatient at The Royal Children’s Hospital.