'Please think of those in need': Mum's plea to panic-buyers after son's surgery

Photo: Hannah Dryfhout
Photo: Hannah Dryfhout 

A Melbourne mum whose baby son underwent emergency brain surgery last week has issued a plea to coronavirus panic-buyers to please "think of those in need", after being unable to find hand sanitiser and baby Panadol

Hannah Dryfhout of Mount Eliza, Victoria, took to the Facebook group Neighbourly Love, which was created by Nine reporter Jelisa Apps, after her son, Alexander, was discharged from hospital.

"Does anybody have any sanitiser they can spare?" she wrote. "My son needed an emergency brain surgery on Friday and just got discharged from the hospital today. He's an ex-preemie and is now seven months old with a big complex medical history and we only have a small bottle left.

Photo: Alexander Dryfhout
Photo: Alexander Dryfhout 

"Happy to trade if there's something you need, or pay if anybody has some on hand. Just extra nervous having him home."

Speaking to Essential Baby, Ms Dryfhout says she's never asked for help publicly, but has turned to the community after her son's operation, due to his complex health needs.

"He was a 28-weeker," she says, adding that Alexander suffered a "catastrophic stroke" at just three weeks old, which caused a brain bleed and a condition called hydrocephalus. "He had two surgeries then and spent three-and-a-half months in hospital. He was so critical, the night of the stroke he was given just hours to live."

The little boy also has chronic lung disease due to underdeveloped lungs which places him at high risk for the coronavirus. "He spent the first three months on respiratory support," Ms Dryfhout says.

But while her little miracle is now seven months old (four months corrected), ten days ago he became unwell. "His head circumference began growing, " she says. "Once they realised it was the brain, Alexander had emergency surgery to replace the shunt. He has two open sites on his head right now."


Ms Dryfhout says they came home three days post-op as the wards are going on lockdown. "They gave us a basic wound care kit but normally it would be a lot bigger," she says. "But because of the shortages it's all they could do."

According to Ms Dryfhout, her biggest fear is not coronavirus but that Alexander's wound will get an infection. "They're not doing elective surgeries because hospital resources are being used and he won't have the same response medically if he needs it," she says.

After posting about the shortage of hand sanitiser on Tuesday night,  Ms Dryfout says someone dropped a bottle on her doorstep, while others have offered to post some to her.  "The community has been amazing," she says. "If there's anything positive, it's the way the community has come together. A woman with terminal cancer messaged me saying she had two small bottles of hand sanitiser and I could have one. That broke my heart! I said I'm not going to take it from you because you need it just as much."

The children's Panadol shortage is also of concern.  "Alexander was on Panadol at the hospital but coming home there's no liquid Panadol at all," she says. "I have a quarter of a bottle. I think people are bulk-buying 'just in case', but there are kids who actually need it.

Ms Dryfhout was advised by the hospital that if worst comes to worst she'll need to break up adult pills into quarters and dilute them with water. "It's really hard to get accurate dosing," she says, adding that her baby has been very uncomfortable since coming home. "He won't sleep - he's in pain," she says. "We're not able to give him anything else post-recovery."

And her message to others is clear:

"People need to start thinking about those who are actually in need."

But it's not just Panadol and hand sanitiser. Other parents in the Neighbourly Love group and on Twitter have said they're struggling to find ventolin for their children in pharmacies. 

The most recent update from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) notes that they have not received any notifications of medicine shortages in Australia that are a direct result of COVID-19. "Therefore, while it may be appropriate for individuals to ensure that they have at least two weeks supply of prescription medicines in the unlikely event they are quarantined, any stockpiling of medicines is unnecessary.

"Stockpiling by individuals could result in other consumers being unable to access particular medicines (e.g. from their local pharmacy). Stockpiling of any medicines at this time is not indicated and could result in patients not receiving the medicines that they require."

You can contact Hannah here

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