Family of child killed by bat scratch in safety push
THE family of a former Sunshine Coast boy killed by the deadly lyssavirus have launched a public awareness campaign to help other parents ensure the safety of their children around bats.
Michelle Flynn and Colin Boucher have drawn inspiration from child safety campaigners Bruce and Denise Morcombe, launching a foundation in memory of their son Lincoln and hoping to get their message into schools.
Eight-year-old Lincoln Boucher contracted the deadly lyssavirus from a bat scratch late last year and died in hospital four months later.
His parents believe he would be alive today if he was aware of the seriousness of the incident and had told them about it.
The youngster's family lived on the Sunshine Coast from 2001, as Mrs Flynn was part of the redevelopment team for Hotel Caloundra.
Lincoln was born at Nambour General Hospital on May 13, 2004 and the family left the Coast in 2008, eventually settling in the Whitsundays three years ago.
Lincoln had been playing tennis with his sister last November when the bat attacked and scratched him on the wrist but he did not tell his parents about the incident.
The virus lay dormant in his body until January when he was taken to hospital with a severe fever.
Doctors were initially baffled by his illness and blood tests came back negative to any known virus or disease.
As days and weeks went by, the family could do nothing but watch the virus take control of their little boy.
After almost a week in intensive care Lincoln's seizures became so violent that doctors placed him in an induced coma.
It was then that Lincoln's sister Lauren told doctors of the bat scratch and he was diagnosed with lyssavirus.
But by then it was too late and Lincoln's 28-day fight for life ended on February 22.
Ms Flynn said she believed her son's life could have been saved had he known the dangers of contact with bats or informed an adult.
"He was scratched in late November and he only told his siblings and friends. He didn't think to tell an adult," she told the Daily.
"When the first signs were there, we weren't really sure what it was.
"When the first tests got done, they came back negative. It wasn't until the second lot of tests came back that he tested positive.
"I think about it all the time - he could have been saved if he knew the dangers.
"The same with his siblings and friends. They thought it was a bit of a joke. They were calling him Batman.
"We want to promote awareness for school-age children."
With this in mind, Lincoln's family established the Lincoln Lyssavirus Foundation, to raise awareness and educate children about what they should do if they encountered a bat.
They hope to work with health and education departments all along the eastern seaboard.
Ms Flynn said they were taking inspiration from the Morcombes who have campaigned tirelessly for child protection following the disappearance and death of their son Daniel.
"They were doing a school talk and we organised to meet them personally, to say well done and to share our story," she said.
The foundation will hold its first fundraiser at the Maroochydore RSL Club on Friday, August 30.
Family friend Cathleen Campbell organised the event to raise money for the awareness of lyssavirus, as well as to help the family financially.
"We have to spread the word so that no other family has to suffer through losing a child to this," Ms Campbell said.
"The message is simple - if a bat scratches you, tell someone."
HOW TO HELP
What: Lincoln Lyssavirus Foundation fundraiser
Where: Maroochydore RSL
Who: Elvis impersonator Mark Andrew
When: Friday, August30.