As the days turned into weeks, Olive’s family found themselves away from home with nowhere to stay.
“She had no air passing through her mouth or nose, so we were immediately flown out of where we lived to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, and Olive was put in NICU,” says James.
“We didn’t know what was going on – we actually thought she’d only be there for a few days. A social worker had found us some basic accommodation at the hospital but by that stage my parents were there as well, so there were three of us staying in a room with one single bed,” explains James.
Luckily the family found a more suitable alternative when they were offered accommodation at Ronald McDonald House Newcastle.
Renee and James each took turns caring for their young daughter – while one of them stayed at the hospital, the other would go back to Ronald McDonald House to sleep.
Since then Olive, now 5, has had three major reconstructive surgeries to help her breathe on her own - six weeks in hospital each time.
While Olive’s condition has improved, she still requires 24-hour care and another extensive surgery, and the likelihood of another six weeks at Ronald McDonald House Newcastle for her parents.
Olive still has trouble breathing on her own and speaking but won’t let anything get in the way of making friends and spending time with her siblings.
Both Renee and James credit their time at Ronald McDonald House with ensuring a continued positive environment for their daughter and ongoing community of support in their own lives.
“We’ve made good friends there – they know where you’re at and they understand – the support is amazing.”