Family’s heartache as little Thomas dies far from home
A Queensland family has been left heartbroken and isolated after their three-year-old boy died in a Melbourne hospital following desperate attempts to get him home failed.
After a long battle with the rare Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, Thomas died on Saturday in the arms of his parents Leah and Morgan Collins.
The family temporarily moved to Victoria just before the pandemic was declared so their son could receive treatment at the Royal Children's' Hospital that was not available in Queensland.
After undergoing brain surgery earlier this month, it became clear the little boy would not survive and the Collins family was given clearance from their doctors to take him home for his final days.
But Mrs Collins said the Queensland Government had been "twiddling its thumbs" and failed to act in time.
She told the Herald Sun they were eventually offered to do 14 days quarantine in Queensland with impossible provisions, including potentially being stuck in a room where their son would die.
"I'd think as Queensland residents we'd be able to go back in but the exception we were given meant that if he passed away we would have had to spend a remainder of the two weeks in that room," Mrs Collins said.
"Queensland Health really just didn't come to the table."
The family support tough border measures to keep people safe, but argued they were the safest possible people having spent months getting regular COVID-19 tests in hospital.
Late last week the parents decided they would remain in Melbourne until he passed, with Mrs Collin's mother, Kaye Walker, able to join for support.
But grandfather Bob Walker did not make it in time, arriving from Queensland by car the day after little Thomas passed.
Proud mum Mrs Collins said her "cheeky as hell" little boy had a strong bond with the hospital staff, boasting the young boy could spell the hospital cleaner's name and was clearly a favourite among the nurses.
"Everyone who met Thomas adored Thomas," she said.
"He always had his cars and his truck and his trains.
"He was the happiest, loveliest little kid, he was cheeky as hell."
Mrs Collins said Thomas' bond with his dad was unlike anything else, with Mr Collins spending days on end at his bedside.
"Thomas just adored his dad," she said.
The family now want to get back home to Ipswitch so they can hug their friends and family, and farewell their little boy.
But they now face either fourteen days of quarantine at a hotel, at home alone or in NSW.
"But I spent two and half years inside," Mrs Collins said, hoping to receive an exemption from state authorities.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt hoped "common sense can prevail" so the Collins can get back with the family and friends as soon as possible.
"This is an agonising human case - it speaks to our common humanity. It reminds us that there is always a fundamental place for compassion," a spokesman for the Minister said.
"We respectfully but clearly call on the Queensland Premier to provide the family with all of the compassionate exemptions they need in this time of agonising grief."
He pointed to the commonwealth definition of a hotspot, which was not currently met by any justisticion including Victoria.
In the 24 hours before Thomas's death, representatives from the hospital were preparing to mount a case to get the family back home.
"The RCH on Friday escalated the quarantine issue and were preparing to advocate with government and Queensland Health counterparts," a hospital spokeswoman said.
Queensland Health said it would "continue to offer every assistance possible to the family".
"We extend our deepest condolences to the Collins family at this difficult time," a spokesman said.
But the Collins family told the Herald Sun they had never heard from the state government.
A GoFundMe started to help cover funeral and other costs has so far raised more than $65,000.
Originally published as Family's heartache as little Thomas dies far from home