We have two sons Junior Grendel Number One - aged 9, and Junior Grendel Number Two, aged 7. They are great boys, full of life, loud, funny, active, farty boys.
Junior Grendel Number One has autism which gives us a few extra things to deal with but he is an amazing child. His brother can insist on attention like no one I have ever seen.
They are amazing and we love them.
On a dark day in 2004 we nearly lost them both to Pneumococcal septicaemia.
The youngest had been ill for a few days and my partner took him to the after hours clinic at Joondalup from where he was admitted directly to the pediatric ward at Joondalup hospital. I left our older son with neighbours and took some clothes and personal items in to the hospital. On my return my older son looked unwell and walking back to our front door he collapsed and started having convulsions. His blue lips triggered a phone call to the ambulance and I could feel he was hot so I stripped him off as far as I could and tried to cool him with a wet cloth.
My partner recieved a frantic call from me telling her, as she sat by the bed of our 10-month old baby, that our two-year old was arriving at the emergency entrance in an ambulance.
The staff wanted a sample of urine from our eldest but he was so unwell that after an hour's debate they decided on a massive dose of antibiotics. Within two hours he had responded and was moved to the wards. Our youngest was a difficult case and it took a week for him to recover to the point where we could take him home.
Their lives were saved by the medical knowledge developed through decades of medical research and the applied research that followed. Doctors only know how to treat these diseases effectively because research has made the discoveries that point the way.
Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacteria that cause Pneumococcal septicaemia, pneumonia and meningitis are found commonly in the respiritory tract. There is a vaccine available to prevent illness from occuring from the most common strains. The program to commence the vaccination of children was rolled out nationally in 2005. This program will save the lives of children like my boys. It will save parent the trauma we underwent and it will prevent costly hospital intervention and emergency events.
The medical research that leads to vaccines like these is funded through the National Health and Medical Research Council and carried out by organisations and researchers at organisations like Perth's very own Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.
I'm angry by any decision to reduce research funding because as a parent this place me, my partner and our children at risk. As a citizen I know that cuts in research place fellow citizens at risk. As a human I know that the reduction of funding will cost lives, not just here in Australia, but in the developing world where our research has even more significant value, since many countries cannot afford the research infrastructure that we have established.
We can't afford to reduce funding - not from a health outcomes perspective and not from an economic perspective.
Make your voice heard - Go here - Get Involved and email those who may be about to place your life at risk.