Why We Do It

Juliette McAleer

RBWH patient and 'The Royal 50K' Ambassador

It was just a regular day in the office when Juliette started to experience some niggly back pain. Thinking nothing of it, she purchased a heat pack and kept working. But that night as the pain got progressively worse, she drove herself to the Maryborough Hospital Emergency Department where they quickly diagnosed a small bowel volvulus and suspected ischaemic bowel. Parts of Juliette's bowel and stomach were starved of blood and oxygen and had started to die.

Juliette was transferred to Hervey Bay Hospital for emergency surgery, however due to delays in transfer between hospitals, by the time she arrived, most of her bowel and stomach had died and was in a process of haemorrhagic necrosis and had to be removed over four successive open surgeries. Two of these surgeries happened in Hervey Bay, and when it became apparent she would likely not survive, her surgeon called Dr Dodd at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH) to see if there was anything more that could be done to save Juliette's life.

She was put on a rescue chopper and flown to RBWH and what followed was more than 5 months in hospital, multiple surgeries and a long recovery journey.

Yet, Juliette's story is also one of incredible resilience. Overcoming the physical and psychological toll of her illness, she discovered a passion for running, which not only boosted her physical health but provided mental solace and a newfound appreciation for life's potential. Despite the ongoing challenges, Juliette has set ambitious goals. Her journey of recovery and running is not just a personal triumph but an inspiration to her children and everyone around her.

Juliette's experience underscores the importance of medical research and patient care initiatives. She is a vocal advocate for the RBWH Foundation, emphasising the critical impact of donor support for life-saving medical care and research. Her story is a powerful reminder that health and well-being can change in an instant, and the support systems we often take for granted can become the lifelines we depend on for survival and recovery.

How You Can Support People like Juliette

Wes Raddysh

RBWH patient and The Royal 50K Ambassador

In 2022, Wes sold his home in Sydney and moved to Queensland, ready for a relaxing transition into semi-retirement, when his life changed forever. 

"I was on my way to a job interview for part-time work as a commercial boat skipper when my accident happened. A car pulled out of the Tewantin RSL car park and ran directly into me and the impact sent me flying six metres into the air. Upon landing, I sustained a broken right ankle, concussion, numerous cuts and bruises, and significant trauma to my lower right leg with multiple fractures of both bones, severe lacerations and a nicked artery.

At first I was in shock and felt nothing. Then, when the pain hit, it hit like a freight train.”

Wes’ wife was called, Noosa Ferries were notified that their candidate for the job was not going to make it that day, and Wes was transported to a nearby waiting helicopter which took him to Sunshine Coast University Hospital

Wes had seven operations over the next 38 days, and was released on New Year's Eve 2022, without his right leg. 

“The first prosthetic was very painful to use and even when the skin had healed, I could still only walk with crutches for up to 200m before it caused a breakdown of the skin joint again.”

In May 2023, Andrew from the Amputee clinic at RBWH got in touch with Wes to offer him a new prosthetic leg, which was created by a new machine for moulding sockets. Wes was desperate for a solution, and drove down to Brisbane a couple of weeks later. 

“As soon as I put it on, it was like a Eureka moment. It fitted perfectly and I was able to walk straight away. I now have a PB of walking 7.2km in a day!”

10 and a half months on from missing that job interview, Wes finally made it along to Noosa Ferries, where he has now been hired as a skipper, getting out onto the water in his ‘happy place’. 

Without the generosity of RBWH’s supporters, the machine which built Wes’ new prosthetic leg may not have been available, and he may not have been able to walk today. His story shows the importance of patient well-being in their recovery, and the direct impact that investment in new technology can have on the quality of life for patients into the future.

How You Can Support People like Wes

Mark Berridge

RBWH patient and 'The Royal 50K' Ambassador

March 10, 2019, was a pivotal day for Mark Berridge during a routine 70km road cycle with friends, a road defect sent him crashing into a stormwater drain, resulting in a spinal cord injury that forever changed his life.

At the hospital Mark faced the harsh reality of a dislodged vertebra causing over 50% compression of his spinal cord. Emergency stabilisation involved the insertion of two 23-centimeter rods to protect his crushed vertebrae, offering a glimmer of hope for mobility.

Navigating through waves of fear and despair, Mark embraced a mindset of hope and resilience. Hospitalization marked the initial phase, progressing from limited movement to intensive gym-based rehab sessions. The rehabilitation journey continued through day hospital sessions, blending private and public facilities to regain strength, balance, and control.

The third phase involved ongoing private practice physiotherapy, emphasizing maintenance, strengthening, and gait enhancement. Maintaining a positive mindset became pivotal during deflating moments, with Mark emphasizing the transformative power of action in changing perspectives and overcoming negativity.

Learning to walk again proved complex and exhausting. Initial assistance from a rollator evolved into using parallel bars and crutches. With the support of skilled physiotherapists, Mark gradually improved his walking, facing the challenges of nerve-related damage and manual processing of previously automatic functions.

Despite functional mobility struggles, including reduced speed and difficulty with certain exercises, Mark considers himself fortunate and remains hopeful, pursuing incremental improvements.

All movement consumes a lot of energy but overall, I am extremely fortunate and can live a relatively normal life.”

Setting ambitious goals, Mark aimed to conquer Tasmania's Three Capes Track in 2021. The journey demanded careful training, considering muscle fatigue and tightness, and involved using walking poles extensively for stability. The physical toll took two months to fully recover from, showcasing Mark's determination.

Mark's inspiring story, chronicled in his book 'A Fraction Stronger,' serves as a testament to overcoming adversity. He encourages everyone to appreciate their resilience, reflect on past achievements, and believe in their ability to tackle challenges one fraction at a time.

In the spirit of resilience, Mark is supporting The Royal 50K Challenge, Mark's story serves as a testament to the strength within all of us. The Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH), backed by donor support, continue to be instrumental in these patients stories towards recovery.

How You Can Support People like Mark