The count-down to come home from hospital is finally over for Macksville’s Jude Ross following his life-saving bone-marrow transplant in March this year.
After a total of 270 days or 38 weeks, at Sydney Royal Children’s Hospital, including 226 days at Ronald McDonald House, Jude was given the long-awaited, all-clear to head home on November 30… just in time for Christmas.
Jude’s parents Carla and Adam Ross said it meant everything to have the family at home together for Christmas.
“Being in a situation like this is tough on a family and you realize just how much you miss the little things that being a family is all about,” Jude’s dad Adam said.
“[Jude] is loving being home. We started to build a new house late last year before we made the decision to have a bone marrow transplant.
“It was completed while Jude was still in Sydney, so he is loving his new house and bedroom, and is happy to be home with his big brother Finn - they have a lot of catching up to do,” Adam said.
Before his bone-marrow transplant, Jude suffered from a rare genetic condition called Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome, which meant he had a poorly-functioning immune system and was at increased risk of bruising and serious bleeds. For the two years prior to his transplant, Jude also suffered from arthritis and severe stomach pain.
Thanks to the successful bone-marrow transplant, Jude’s arthritic and stomach pain have completely been resolved, Adam explained.
“The new bone marrow began to graft around day +9. Jude is now 100 per cent engrafted with donor cells, and he is a new and improved little boy. He is still on a lot of medications and we are still trying to resolve his graft-verses-host disease on his skin, but we will get there.”
Although recovery is going quite well, it is a lot on the six-year-old’s little body. From the chemotherapy and the endless amounts of medications he is still taking daily, some days are harder than others, Adam said.
And when the medications can only do so much to help Jude feel better, brother Finn comes to the rescue to raise his little brother’s spirits.
“Finn is the ultimate remedy and Jude says he makes him feel ten thousand times better,” say mum and dad.
With weekly visits to doctors and nurses in Coffs and Sydney, Jude’s recovery journey still has a ways to go.
“But he is just amazing and we couldn’t be more proud of our little warrior and it is so nice to be together as a family leading up to Christmas after such a long year.”
While in hospital, Jude received ongoing support and encouragement from friends and family back in Macksville. On day +50 of his recovery the Macksville community held a Movie N Marrow fundraiser at Macksville Ex-Services Club raising more than $3000 to support Jude and his family.
At day +100 post transplant, fell on Jude’s sixth birthday and it was hoped Jude could head home. While he may not have been able to head home then, he certainly felt the love from his friends back in Macksville.
“Six months is such a long time in a kid's life, and sadly so many kids seem to be forgotten by their school... But not ours!” Jude’s mum said in a Facebook post on the page Movin Marrow for Jude.
“Jude video calls his classmates every week, and his teacher and the school involve him in so many things. So we want to give a massive shout out to St Pat’s, Mrs Gadsby and KG.”
During his recovery Jude’s kindergarten teacher from St Patrick’s Primary School dropped in for a visit, even bringing games to play.
Jude also met Australian actress Naomi Watts, this year's ambassador for McHappy Day.
“So Jude, being Jude, gave her a hug and snuggled into her on the lounge! He told her a few jokes and talked about dinosaurs,” Jude’s mum Carla said in a Facebook post.
Since being home Jude has been busily preparing his wish list for Santa in hopes he’s on Santa’s list of nice kids.
“Thank you to all the great people within the Nambucca Valley for all your generosity and support there are too many people to name and a lot we have never met.
“That's what's great about this area, we all come together to lend a hand for a good cause.
“Thank you to our friends behind the Movin Marrow for Jude Team, we are so appreciative for what you have done for our family. You girls and guys are legends!
“Thank you to everyone for your love and support throughout this year. We never anticipated being away quite this long, but we are slowly going in the right direction.
“However long it takes, we will get you through this Jude. You are such an amazing young boy, and can't help but to brighten the day of everybody you meet.”
Related reading: Jude says a big thank you for supporting Movie N Marrow fundraiser