A critical care nurse from Melbourne, Australia, went above and beyond the call of duty for a patient with Down syndrome sick with COVID-19.
Sarah Kelly had been put in intensive care and on a ventilator as her oxygen levels dropped drastically. The 22-year-old contracted coronavirus in late July and was brought to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
As much as her carers tried to convince her, Sarah wouldn’t wear a nasal cannula for oxygen. Instead, she inhaled oxygen through a straw after refusing to use the tubes. She had Down syndrome and struggled to understand why she needed to keep them in her nose.
Her critical care nurse, Steven Moylan, figured he had to help Sarah, or she might not survive.
After noticing that Sarah loved watching The Wiggles, an Australian children’s music group, he thought—what if he asked for their help?
Steven, who has a brother with an intellectual disability, decided to contact The Wiggles to ask if they could record a personalized video about how to use oxygen tubes.
Steven hoped that seeing her idols using the tubes will convince Sarah to wear hers to save her life.
“It was super important that we got her to do it because it could have been the difference between being successful off the ventilator and not,” he said.
Initially, Steven had no idea how to contact The Wiggles directly. He spent a week making inquiries, sending out dozens of emails, and calling 35 times through their website, the ABC, and through a friend who worked at the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
He eventually resorted to Google and found a private phone number on a fan website. The number belonged to a fan who gave Steven an email address connected to The Wiggles.
Finally, he got through to the musical group. They were touched by Sarah’s story and agreed to Steven’s video request.
“Anthony and I just jumped in our cars and met at the studio and we just recorded and filmed this quick video for Sarah to help alleviate the fear she had,” Simon said. “As Wiggles, we are more than happy to take that on board and do whatever we can.”
By this time, Sarah had gone into a coma as her body’s need for oxygen peaked.
Sarah needed to feel more comfortable using the nasal cannula and performing her breathing exercises, so Blue Wiggle Anthony Field and Red Wiggle Simon Pryce shot a video with a dummy Dorothy the Dinosaur using the hospital equipment Steven had sent to their studio.
The band made sure they said what Sarah needed to hear in the video.
“We thought we could present it to Sarah in a way that we were her friends, and we do it so it is not as scary,” Anthony said.
In the video, The Wiggles sang a special song for Sarah and demonstrated wearing the nasal prongs, telling her to take deep breaths as she did.
After waking up from her coma in early August, Sarah watched the video made for her by The Wiggles. And it worked! Sarah started putting on her oxygen tubes and kept them in all day. She also started doing her breathing exercises.
Sarah’s condition improved almost instantly, and she was soon brought out of the ICU. She has been in the hospital for five weeks, three of which were in an induced coma.
Sarah’s amazing recovery had a positive effect not only on Steven but also on the other hospital staff. Her story was just what they needed—a piece of positive news during this horrible pandemic.
Steven is grateful to The Wiggles for taking the time to shoot the video for his patient. But for the band, it’s the critical care nurse who deserves all the praise.
“He’s been in the ICU and battling COVID for the past 18 months, yet he was still able to think outside the square and take someone’s personal circumstance into account,” Simon said.
It’s lovely to see how this team effort panned out! Now, Sarah is back on her feet—all thanks to these kindhearted souls who saved her life.
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