Rockhampton three-year-old Henry Payne and his family have moved to Brisbane where Henry is on a ventilator at Queensland Children's Hospital.
Rockhampton three-year-old Henry Payne and his family have moved to Brisbane where Henry is on a ventilator at Queensland Children's Hospital. Renae Droop/RDW Photography

Mystery virus takes Henry's breath away

LITTLE Henry Payne's life will never be the same after a mystery illness almost killed him.

The Rockhampton three-year-old and his family have moved to Brisbane where Henry is on a ventilator at Queensland Children's Hospital.

Living in Duaringa more than three years ago, Henry came down with a chest infection that antibiotics failed to fix.

Henry's mum Eugenie Payne arrived with Henry at Rockhampton hospital a short time before her son collapsed.

"They didn't know what was wrong with him and the fourth day there he started having seizures and had to go onto life support," Eugenie said.

Henry was transferred to QCH where test after test failed to reveal why he was so close to death.

It took about eight weeks for doctors to work out that the enterovirus anterior horn transverse myelitis had destroyed part of Henry's spinal cord, meaning he lost function in his diaphragm and muscles.

Doctors expect he will never breathe for himself and he will most likely spend his life in a wheelchair.

"He is ventilated for life now," Eugenie said.

Eugenie said moving to Brisbane was essential to ensure Henry has the opportunity to live at home.

QCH and the Children's Hospital Foundation are able to provide the necessary support and equipment Henry needs to leave hospital on a ventilator.

"We've had to buy a house here because we need to be within 40km of the hospital to have at-home ventilation," Eugenie said.

"We have uplifted our whole life to keep Henry alive."

While he has limited movement and cannot leave the hospital, Henry's stay at Queensland Children's Hospital has been made a little better thanks to the Children's Hospital Foundation services.

Eugenie said her son's face lit up every time a foundation volunteer visited.

The foundation also made sure Henry was able to attend this year's hospital EKKA party where he soaked up the music and enjoyed meeting the farm animals.

Other foundation services include Juiced TV, where children host the show and interview celebrities; Cuddle Carers; music, pet, bedside play and other therapy programs; and the Book Bunker library.

The Channel Nine Telethon is the Children's Hospital Foundation's key fundraiser.

As well as supporting patients at QCH, money raised during the telethon pays for vital medical equipment, research and a range of medical services at QCH and throughout regional Queensland and Northern NSW.

The foundation hopes to raise more than $12 million when Queenslanders tune into the telethon on the Nine Network on November 17.

Donations can also be made at participating Woolworths, Big W and Bank of Queensland outlets.


The inflight technology saving young lives

IF your child becomes critically ill, there is a chance their life might be saved by technology partially funded by community donations.

The Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine is a significant piece of equipment that takes over the function of the heart and lungs while a child's body is fighting an illness or struggling with an injury.

The ECMO at Queensland Children's Hospital has saved the lives of more than 200 children from as far north as Cooktown, west to Mt Isa and south to the Gold Coast. 

The Children's Hospital Foundation has commissioned a special portable version of the ECMO - known as a "sled".

Money raised during last year's Channel Nine Telethon helped pay for the first Australian portable unit, one that can go in an aircraft, foundation CEO Rosie Simpson said.

"Close to half the children that come into Queensland Children's Hospital are from regional areas - which is why we fund innovative equipment," she said.

"The ECMO sled is equivalent to an intensive care unit but it is mobile.

"We are bringing all the technology and expertise to the patient." 



  • Queensland Children's Hospital treated about 13,000 inpatients from regional Queensland and northern NSW over the past year.
  • The Children's Hospital Foundation provides a range of support services for sick children and young people attending QCH and hospitals across Queensland.
  • About $1.7 million of CHF funds has been invested in regional pediatric wards.
  • More than 42 per cent of children visiting hospitals in Brisbane come from regional areas and many of these are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in Queensland.