Harry’s happy rebound – Health system kicks into gear to save bub

Words: Brigid O’Connell, Herald Sun

Photography: David Caird, Herald Sun

The blood test results defied what doctors saw in front of them. On paper, Harry Warnock should be critically ill with such a low blood count. But as fast as the rare condition took hold of the then four-month-old’s kidneys, he recovered just as quickly thanks to a life-saving drug and top-class medical system that joined its links across the state to help him.

Harry had always been a pale baby. Mum Lisa Warnock said it wasn’t until he started refusing feeds and sleeping all day her gut told her something wasn’t right. Harry was sent straight from the hospital in Benalla to Wangaratta.

With the results of his blood tests, the paediatrician there called The Royal Children’s Hospital paediatric nephrologist Tom Forbes for advice.

Harrison Warnock from Benalla has rare condition called haemolytic uraemic syndrome.
Picture: David Caird

“He was profoundly anaemic. Numbers for any other child, if they happened acutely, you’d say they’d be life threatening,” Dr Forbes said.

PIPER, the Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval team, was summoned to fly Harry to Melbourne. Tests confirmed he had a rare abnormality of his immune and blood-clotting system called haemolytic uraemic syndrome, which causes blood clots to form in vessels of the kidneys.

Dr Forbes said they got special approval from the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme to treat Harry with a life-saving drug called eculizumab, which he will need every few weeks for the rest of his life.

He has also undergone genetic testing through the Kidney Flagship program, its establishment funded by the Good Friday Appeal, to use genetic testing to improve and personalise the treatment of kidney disease.

“The control of the disease and recovery we’ve seen in Harrison is just astounding. He is essentially back to normal,” Dr Forbes said.

“This story speaks to the great collaboration we have between the Children’s and regional centres, the retrieval service, the application we made for this very expensive drug, and the genetic service that launched a rapid investigation. It pulls together a lot of the strengths we have for paediatric care in Victoria.”

Now home and eight months old, Harry still has an IV line in his chest for ongoing infusions.

Harry is just one of the many Victorian children who has benefitted from funds raised via the Good Friday Appeal. For more information about this year’s appeal and to donate, visit www.goodfridayappeal.com.au

2 comments for “Harry’s happy rebound – Health system kicks into gear to save bub”

  1. Jake, Lisa and Isabella Warnock

    We are eternally grateful for the royal children’s hospital and all they have done and continue to do for our Harry boy. Every single individual or department we have been met with has been helpful, informative, supportive and imperative to our now healthy and happy little boy. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

  2. Jane Dobson

    I loved reading this story,my daughter passed away from this disease 41 years ago ,we agreed to an autopsy to help research into it & this story makes me thankful her death was not in vain. I’m so happy for this family please pass on my best wishes to them

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