THE Royal Children’s Hospital has given Stephanie and Michael Funke the best possible Christmas present.
Five-month-old Madeleine has made it out of hospital for the first time in her short life to spend Christmas with her family in Minyip.
Born a dangerous 14 weeks premature and rushed to Melbourne, Madeleine then suffered a perforated bowel.
Surgeons had to operate in the Royal Children’s neonatal unit because she was too unstable to be moved to an operating theatre.
Doctors also prepared her parents for the worst — which made Madeleine’s release from hospital even more special.
“Having Madeleine home after everything we have gone through is unreal,” Mrs Funke said.
“There were a few times we thought we’d never see this day. We cried when we went into hospital and we cried when we came out.”
The birth was followed by a trip to the Mercy Hospital for Women with the Neonatal Emergency Transport Service.
Their return home was far less dramatic and follow-up tests at the Royal Children’s this month have given Madeleine a clean bill of health.
And that has given the Funkes plenty of Christmas cheer — especially sister Caitlin, 3.
“Caitlin absolutely devotes her whole time to Madeleine,” Mrs Funke said.
“Caitlin is already saying when I grow up I want to be a nurse after all that she has seen in the hospital.
“The nurses were fantastic and let her do some of the bandages and rubbing in creams.” Grant McArthur