Indi Gumbrell, the face of The Mater Hospital’s Little Easter Appeal, with brother Seth and parents Mandi and Chay.
Indi Gumbrell, the face of The Mater Hospital’s Little Easter Appeal, with brother Seth and parents Mandi and Chay.

Miracle baby Indi now a poster girl

INDI Gumbrell, 5, started kindy at The Pocket School this year, a happy, active little girl just like all the other children in her class.

But Indi’s face is about to appear on posters all over Brisbane, on television advertisements and on merchandise boxes, and it’s all because, five years ago, as dad Chay recalls, “I could slip my wedding ring onto her arm and all the way up to her shoulder.”

Indi will be the face of this year’s Mater Hospital Little Easter Appeal, chosen to help raisefunds for the hospital where she was born at just 25 weeks gestation, weighing only 861 grams.

The drama began for Indi’s mother Mandi, who, not yet wearing maternity clothes, came home early from work feeling unwell, and at a second visit to Mullumbimby Hospital the next day was asked by a nurse, “are you sure you’re not having contractions?”.

“I said I didn’t know because I’d never had contractions,” said Mandi.

But once her obstetrician arrived, it was into the ambulance for Mandi, Chay and a doctor, and an emergency dash to Brisbane in just one hour and five minutes, with the doctor holding Mandi’s hand the whole way.

But despite all the alarm and the dash, Mandi felt “a complete calm” come over her.

“Chay went to pieces, but I was fine,” she said.

Once at the Mater they were told the baby was breech, and that the decision to have a Caesarean or not was one they would have to make.

They opted for the Caesarean, Mandi was knocked out, and Chay was left standing alone in the hospital corridor, “crying some more”.

But within minutes of Indi’s birth, Chay was with her, then had to watch as his tiny daughter, all connected to tubes, was wheeled away to intensive care.

And watching her was all that Mandi and Chay could do initially, for it was 12 days before they were allowed to touch her, and Chay found that her tiny little body just fitted his cupped hands.

Indi spent eight weeks in the Mater, and then a further five in Lismore, and for the first year of her life was permanently connected to an oxygen bottle.

“People said it must have been hard,”  said Mandi, “but we didn’t know any different – and I never ever doubted that she wasn’t here to stay.”

Mandi puts Indi’s survival down to the “amazing” care she received at the Mater, and is thrilled that her very special daughter will help the hospital raise money to help other families like theirs.

Indi and little brother Seth (born 16 months after his miracle sister, also by Caesarean section because ironically he was ‘too big’), together with parents Chay and Mandi, are very excited to be off to Brisbane next week for the launch of the campaign.

And Mandi is talking to local businesses about putting merchandise boxes on to their shop counters, for, as she explains, the Mater Hospital is the one that looks after local children with serious health issues.

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