Meet Jasper

Jasper's scar symbolises how the Royal Children’s Hospital saved his life.

At a check-up for her baby Jasper, a maternal health nurse told mum Louise Sherriff to get her son straight to the emergency department.

Jasper was 11 weeks old but only 130 grams heavier than his birth weight.

He was being fed formula but had been throwing up after feeding since he was eight weeks old.

At 10 weeks old he was prescribed anti-reflux medication, but he lost 220 grams in nine days even after being medicated.

Jasper was taken to the emergency department on Aug­ust 13, 2015 — a day that will stay with Mrs Sherriff forever.

He was taken to Geelong hospital, where tests found Jasper had pyloric stenosis, an uncommon condition in infants that blocks food from entering the small intestine. It can lead to vomiting, dehydration and weight loss in babies.

Mrs Sherriff, of Belmont, said Jasper was moved to the children’s ward, and his heart stopped beating for seconds at a time.

He was moved to the intensive care unit before being transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

In a matter of hours Jasper’s health had declined rapidly.

Jasper was skinny, dehydrated, lethargic, and severely depleted of potassium, and had several drips and tubes inserted into his tiny body to replenish him.

“Every time people would come in and ask what had happened I was crying, as you would seeing your baby on his death bed,” Mrs Sherriff said.

“Seeing him lying there with all these tubes and drips, it was heartbreaking.”

But within 24 hours, Jasper amazed doctors with his improvement.

He underwent surgery to remove the large mass that had been blocking him from digesting formula.

After three days in the ICU little Jasper was moved to special care, and then two days later sent back to Geelong hospital for one night before being discharged.

“It was a rollercoaster, it was the longest seven days I’ve ever experienced,” Mrs Sherriff said.

In the month after being sent home he put on 380 grams.

“As soon as we had the surgery and he had the fluids and potassium we haven’t looked back,” Mrs Sherriff said.

Jasper had already had a difficult start to life, with a traumatic birth.

“He’s definitely our miracle rainbow baby,” Mrs Sherriff said. “It was such a relief when he recovered.”

Mrs Sherriff said Jasper, who is one of four kids, is now a healthy four-year-old with a vivid imagination.

“He is the most kind and caring kid,” she said.

Jasper knows the scar on his stomach symbolises how the Royal Children’s Hospital saved his life.

“This hospital is amazing — if it wasn’t for them Jasper wouldn’t be here,” Mrs Sherriff said. “Five years later I still can’t thank the Royal Children’s Hospital enough; if it wasn’t for them he wouldn’t be celebrating his fifth birthday this year.”

Every year, Mrs Sherriff’s mum makes a donation to the Good Friday Appeal in her grandson Jasper’s name.

The family loves to get involved by donating and encouraging others to support the hospital that saved Jasper.

Originally published in the Geelong Advertiser, April 9, 2020

Words: Tamara McDonald

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