Home » A tale of triumph from Preemie to Preppie 

A tale of triumph from Preemie to Preppie 

Jamie Furness    February 22, 2024    4 min read   

Information provided by the Wesley Hospital.

This year, five-year-old Arthur Gibbs from Forest Lake achieved a big milestone as he began his journey into prep – a moment that holds profound significance for his mother, Alison Gibbs.

Arthur was born prematurely at 29 weeks and six days.

Alison, his mother, experienced an abruption and haemorrhage, leading to emergency surgery. Following his birth, Arthur spent time in a neonatal intensive care unit, battling a brain bleed.

Alison shares her story in the hope of providing solace to parents experiencing similar challenges with prematurely born children.

Arthur and Alison.

After suffering the loss of her first child at 19 weeks gestation, Alison’s second pregnancy was considered high-risk. She was fortunate to deliver baby Elizabeth via elective c-section.

When Alison fell pregnant with Arthur in 2017 she was still considered to have a high-risk but manageable pregnancy. She had been in hospital the days before he was born, but went home for some rest, with her husband instructed to stay by her side.

“It was a Monday morning. I was not feeling Arthur move, and I was trying to change positions to see if he would start kicking again,” she said.

“I went to the bathroom, where I began haemorrhaging.”

Alison was taken to the Wesley Hospital Maternity Ward, where doctors and midwives rushed to help her. They were very reassuring and quickly found Arthur’s heartbeat, and Alison was taken into the theatre by her obstetrician, Dr Melinda Heywood.

Alison said Arthur’s birth presented critical challenges, and paediatrician’s Dr David Moore and Dr Bruce Lewis saved his life.

“Melinda saved mine as I continued to bleed out,” Alison said.

Arthur was transferred to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) for specialised intensive care.

After waking from surgery, Alison was unable to hold Arthur and barely able to see him before he was taken away by a specialised neonatal transfer team.

Alison’s own recovery at the Wesley Hospital required three blood transfusions. Two days later she was able to visit her son.

Requiring a wheelchair, Alison entered the unit and became hysterical at the sight of her fragile son in intensive care, weighing only 1.63kg, ventilated with an umbilical tube.

After spending some time with Arthur, Alison returned to the Wesley Hospital for follow-up care. She was discharged by Friday and was able to be by Arthur’s side at the RBWH.

While Arthur was in intensive care, the doctors made a shocking discovery of a bilateral grade 4 brain bleed, which heightened the challenges for Arthur’s future. Doctors warned of potential permanent disabilities, including cerebral palsy.

After three weeks at the RBWH, Arthur returned to the Wesley Hospital Special Care Unit where he spent the next five weeks becoming stronger, healthier and gaining weight.

Paediatrician David Moore guided Alison through the diagnosis of the brain bleed, explaining they would need to take each day as it comes and not to worry about future possibilities.

“This reassurance helped me not to jump to the worst-case scenario,” Alison said.

“Melinda was also incredibly helpful, telling me not to worry about the ‘what-ifs’ and deal with what I know and what is happening now.”

After spending a total of eight weeks in care, Arthur was able to go home to his loving family. He is now a happy healthy five-year-old who loves Lego and playing with his big sister.

Despite the brain bleed, Arthur has had no significant issues and only experienced some weakness in his legs, which was corrected with the guidance of a paediatric physiotherapist.

He has had several scans and check-ups and taken part in a neonatal research study to ensure he has remained healthy.

The experience caused both Alison and her husband to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This has prompted Alison to advocate for more discussions around the mental health challenges parents face in such situations.

This January, Arthur began his first day in Prep. 

Alison describes Arthur as an incredibly kind and patient child, and she is immensely proud of his journey and how far he has come.

Avatar photo

Jamie Furness