Saving Lives Everywhere
Saving Lives Everywhere
In early 2019, as North Queensland was bunkering down for the worst flood disaster to ever impact the region, another drama was unfolding in Townsville University Hospital.
17-year old Beaudine Cairns was facing the loss of her leg after three years of failed operations and procedures in the Northern Territory for a non-healing ulcer. For a teenager who lived for the outdoors and dreamt of becoming a helicopter pilot, it was a devastating blow.
“I was actually ready to get rid of my leg,” recalled Beaudine.
“I had been through 13 operations - well actually, I lost count after 13 – and they weren’t little operations either. They were skin flaps, rotational flaps and artery stitch-ups.”
Beaudine’s parents pushed for their daughter to be airlifted to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) where she was greeted by five different teams of doctors.
“Orthopaedics, infectious disease, immunology, plastics, medical - I could breathe again,” said Beaudine. “I was actually getting looked after!”
Beaudine is one of about 800,000 patients treated by RBWH each year, arriving not only from surrounding Greater Brisbane, but also regional and remote areas of the State, Northern New South Wales, the Northern Territory and parts of the Pacific Rim.
Internationally, RBWH is recognised as a research leader in the fields of cancer care; burns, trauma and critical care; neonatology and infectious diseases. Any complex case will be transferred to the hospital and like Beaudine, have access to a multidisciplinary approach to disease and illness.
"RBWH didn’t just save my leg, they gave me back my life and I’m always going to be so thankful for that."
RBWH also offers support to regional and remote healthcare workers and patients through videoconference Telehealth clinics, education and training workshops, medical retrievals particularly for burns, neonatal and infectious diseases, and disaster response.
“I remember when Beaudine arrived,” said Associate Professor Cameron Bennett, Assistant Director of RBWH Internal Medicine Services.
“There was a whole zoo of bacteria growing within the wound itself and also on the bone underneath. She had an unusual issue with her blood and her immune system so there was a skin reaction around the wound which was not helping it heal.”
It was the combined expertise of each Department that finally overcame Beaudine’s complex medical issues, and to the entire family’s relief, saved her leg.
“Research is an integral part of what we do at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital,” said Assoc. Prof. Bennett.
“It adds to the quality of the decision making and improves outcomes for the patients. If there is a strong research and a strong education, then the rest follows.”
Five weeks after arriving at RBWH, Beaudine was sent home for a final time. Her leg has completely healed and the 20-year-old is now preparing to trek the width of Australia by camel.
“They didn’t just save my leg, they gave me back my life and I’m always going to be so thankful for that,” said Beaudine.
“When I’m running down a road or running after something, I’m always going to think, how great these doctors were and what they did for me."
“It’s unbelievable what they can do.”
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