Parents Bianca and husband Josh Maloney welcomed their daughter Sylvie Maloney into the world on a Friday, but by Saturday, things took a turn for the worse and the young family's world was turned upside down.
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At her newborn screen, it was discovered that Sylvie's heart was beating at close to 300 beats per minute.
The cardiac team was soon arriving via helicopter to Mudgee to transport Sylvie and her mum Bianca Westmead, where Sylvie was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome involves an abnormal extra connection or group of nerve cells in the heart, leading to rapid heartbeats.
"It wasn't something we were prepared for," Bianca said.
The Westmead trip was two and a half weeks long, and for a time Bianca and husband Josh stayed at a parents hostel while Sylvie was in the NICU.
"No other family could come so we were devastated - our four-year-old Adaline was absolutely distraught. She hasn't been away from us... I think she's had one night away from us in the four years that she's been on this earth. So having a whole week away from us was really trying - it was really emotional for her," Bianca said.
The family made it work, but help was soon on the way when they were set up with a room at a nearby Ronald McDonald House.
"I had no idea that there was even a McDonald House nearby - I'd always heard of it and how they helped families and children out. I was under the guise that they helped out those with like terminally ill children and things like that," Bianca said.
"To be able to have our daughter with us was just - it was such a huge relief and not trying to run around and organise accommodation as a financial stress and everything like that. it was just - it was such a breath of fresh air..."
Bianca is sharing her story with the hope that it encourages others to donate to RMHC and help families enjoy the same respite they did at a time when they needed it most.
Every year, local communities join forces to support McHappy Day, the largest annual fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), which helps ill and injured children and their families stay together while receiving medical care in a nearby hospital.
While Bianca spent most of her time with Sylvie, having her husband and daughter nearby meant an important connection to family could remain as well as the chance to get restful sleep.
"It just provided us with so much respite. It just was this little safe haven away from home," she said.
The accommodation included washing facilities, fully-capable kitchens, schooling and volunteers that come in and cook for the families staying.
The Maloneys still have a hill ahead of them to climb. There's a hope that Sylvia may outgrow her condition by her first birthday but the odds are stacked against her.
"If she doesn't then she'll have a heart procedure when he's about five - a cardiac ablation. But at the moment she's managed with two different medications throughout the course of a 24-hour period and we monitor her heart all day every day, but we're going really well," Bianca said.
"I will do anything I can to promote Ronald McDonald House because what they did was just - it seemed so simple 'oh we had free accommodation' - it was so much more than that.
"I want to make sure everyone knows that McHappy Day is coming up on the 18th of November and what they do is no short of a miracle."
McHappy Day takes place on Saturday, November 18.
You can support the charity by picking up a pair of socks, or a helping hand for $2, $10, or $50, from their local McDonalds from now and on McHappy Day.
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