Family Stories

Arthur and
Harper’s story

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Arthur and Harper are active little boys. From the minute they wake up to the moment they hit the pillow, it’s all systems go. They buzz from one activity to the next, rarely stopping to come up for air. It’s hard to imagine this would’ve been possible five years ago.

The fraternal twins were born at 25 weeks, 2,500 km from their home in Broome and a helicopter ride to the hospital in Perth. As any parent of a premature baby knows, arriving this early comes with a host of complications.

For little Arthur, it began with several brain bleeds in the early days, which meant he needed brain and heart surgery at the tender age of two months. This was followed by cerebral palsy, aspiration and other complications as a result of his surgeries. He was also on numerous breathing machines for four months.

His brother, Harper, was born with lung complications and needed several breathing devices to support him through his first five months. This was followed by antibiotics and other treatments to strengthen his lungs as he developed.

It would be an understatement to say the boys’ parents, Nicola and Steven, were overwhelmed when they first walked into the Ronald McDonald House.

But as Nicola says, “the volunteers were the first people we met and they made the process so much more manageable, which helped us relax a bit”. The family soon discovered that the volunteers were there to help with anything they needed, including ferrying them to and from the hospital.

Given the number of hours the family spent at the hospital, staying at the House was life-changing for these weary parents. Just having a cooked meal at the end of a long day, and a private room to go to when they were too emotional to face the world meant everything to Nicola and Steven.

“We felt so welcome there after so many horrendous days, which was a massive thing for us.”

As new parents whose family live overseas and whose friends are thousands of kilometres away, they soon formed close relationships with everyone in the House. Many of the volunteers had worked at the House for a long time, so they knew the boys and their story.

“They were always there to have a chat, ask how we were doing and find out what we needed while we were away. They are all just really amazing.”

Since the boys were born, they have been in and out of hospital multiple times. There’s always one of them in surgery or needing an appointment, and as Nicola says, “being together as a family helps tenfold”. This is especially important in a twin relationship as “they still need that emotional and social togetherness when they are very young”, she says.

Now that the boys are five and have recovered in leaps and bounds, the family is looking forward to living life.

“I just want to see them grow and develop and discover what interests they have as they get older. And I want them to be happy. Whatever that is, we will try and make that happen.”

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