Helping out just grand

Words: Sarah Booth
Photo: Wayne Taylor

Selfless sacrifice. That’s how parents Bol Kuol and Kristine Justo describe the volunteer work of ward “grandparent” Dina Milesi, who spends nine hours a week at The Royal Children’s Hospital with their “miracle” son.

But Mrs Milesi sees it differently, and welled up when asked about her bond with Tyson, born premature at just 22 weeks.

She says she gets so much out of the experience, having met and bonded with “amazing” families in her six years of volunteering.

“I met Tyson the (other) week and the rest is history,” she said.

“It’s an absolute privilege that they trust something as precious as a child to someone they don’t know.

“It really is special.”

Co-ordinated by the hospital’s social workers, volunteer grandparents visit a patient three times a week, giving the family welcome respite while knowing their child has company.

With dad returning to work, five other children at home and Tyson in his ninth month in hospital, the family struggled to find the words to convey how “extremely thankful” they were.

Ms Justo said it was a huge relief to know Grandma Dina was cuddling and playing with “our miracle baby” when they could not be there.

“Every parent needs to know that someone is there with their child,” she said.

“The comfort you get from that is the best thing anyone could ask for. We are so appreciative.”

Hospital spokeswoman Alison Errey said: “Our hospital simply could not function the same without their contributions. The Ward Grandparent Program provides invaluable support to infants and young children like Tyson.”

Ward grandparent Dina Milesi with Tyson. Picture: Wayne Taylor

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