A Christmas Miracle

Pae continues to grow stronger every day

My final blog this year is about a 15-year old boy called Pae, who was admitted to Middlemore Hospital with two life threatening conditions. Thanks to his supportive family and incredible teamwork by the staff looking after him, Pae defied all odds and continues to grow stronger every day. Pauline Owens, Stroke Nurse Specialist shares Pae’s story.

It was a rainy Friday evening when Pae, was brought into Emergency Care. Pae collapsed at home and was found by his grandad, unconscious and barely breathing. On arrival to Emergency Care, Pae was examined by senior doctors from Emergency, Medicine, ICU and Neurology, and following a series of tests was found to have a stroke on his brain stem and an unstable neck fracture.  Both of these life-threatening conditions left Pae unable to speak, or move his arms or legs – all while being aware of what was going on around him.   The fear was that Pae was not going to make it and if he did his quality of life would be extremely poor. He was to prove everyone wrong.

From Emergency Care, Pae was admitted to Ward 6 a Hyper-acute stoke unit, where he was looked after by a team of health professionals, not just based on the unit but from around the Hospital. Everyone from doctors, nurses and allied health staff came together to support Pae and his family.

In the chaos of those early hours, it was the simple things that Margaret, Pae’s mum would remember. “While we were in EC a doctor kept coming in to see Pae, putting his hands on his head and talking to him,” says Margaret.   “It was during one of these visits that Pae opened his eyes – this was very special.”

Throughout the days and nights that followed, Pae’s parents remained calm and by his side, totally focused on what was best for Pae and listening to what the health professionals had to say.

“It was a very scary time and I would often tell Pae to find his happy place,” says Margaret. “He would take himself off to a hill behind his nanas, just waiting for things to get better.”

And with time things did start to get better and Pae exceeded expectations by making gains every day. He can now move both his arms and legs, can talk and has started to eat on his own. To Pae’s delight he can now play X-Box.

To celebrate his miraculous recovery the staff from Ward 6 held a very special celebration and presented Pae with a certificate for bravery, sense of humour and determination.

Pae and his family touched all of our hearts, and it has been an absolute privilege working with his family. While they kept thanking us for all that we had done, we were the ones who should be thanking them.   They made it possible for everyone to provide amazing care and brought us closer together as a team.

Pae has now moved to a Neurology Rehabilitation Ward and will still require an operation to stabilise his neck. While the journey will still be a challenging one for Pae and his family, he has proven he has the determination and courage to continue to get better. From only being able to move his eyebrows when he first arrived, he has come a long way.

Pae’s story is an inspiration and it has been an absolute privilege to read about this young boy’s journey.   It re-enforces the message that ‘miracles’ can happen when people work together, and the Board and I would like to thank everyone for an amazing team effort this year. Your compassion, commitment and professionalism never fail to inspire.

If you are taking a break over Christmas, have a wonderful time. If you are holding down the fort, many thanks – please don’t forget to take a break later in the year.

Merry Christmas – Nadolig Llawen       

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FYI The blog will be taking a break until mid-January 2016.



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

2 thoughts on “A Christmas Miracle”

  1. I wonder if “Senior Doctors” from Radiology played any role here? Perhaps they were involved with the “tests”?

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