RMHC North Australia

The McLaren Family

It was just a regular Sunday night for parents Jo and Scott until the unimaginable happened, an accident that left their 13-month-old son, Beau, with severe burns.

“He reached up to grab a tea towel off the bench and accidentally pulled the rice cooker with it,” mum Jo explained.

Beau and mum were rushed by helicopter from Mackay to Townsville University Hospital. There was no time to lose, and twin brother Jack and big sister Charlie stayed with a neighbour until dad could get home from work.

 After a difficult start, Mum and Beau were able to get the support they needed, with a social worker connecting them to Ronald McDonald House. When the rest of the family made the nearly 400 km drive from home, they were grateful to have a place to stay so close to Beau.

“I was exhausted. All I could think about was Beau’s condition, but the staff were just so welcoming,” said dad Scott.

“Straight away, I knew we were in a good place.  Knowing that we had a room here, we were all together, certainly made things easier. I knew I had a little weight off my shoulders, knowing that Beau was only across the road.”

Brave Beau had severe burns over his right arm, shoulder, chest, face and jawbone, which needed grafting. He spent twelve days in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, had many trips to theatre and was given a Biodegradable Temporizing Matrix – synthetic skin that offers higher resistance to infections – to lessen complications in long term recovery.

Six weeks after the incident, and ready to head home, Jo and Scott were relieved to see Beau’s strong progress towards recovery, back to his playful, cheeky self.

“You wouldn’t know he’s sick. He’s just so happy,” said Scott.

The environment of the hospital-adjacent House was able to help the whole family. Big sister Charlie, who witnessed the accident, could deal with the trauma and get a better understanding of what happened, being around families in similar situations.

“I didn’t see her for days. So even for her to have this, and to be making new friends and playing and forgetting about what’s happened is amazing” said Jo.

“She’s grown massively in the time we’ve been here. A month ago, two months ago, if we went to a playground, she wouldn’t be there running around with another little girl like that, she’d be over here hiding behind Dad,” said Scott.

“Everyone here’s been amazing, they treat us like family, they know all our names, and ask about Beau,” said Jo.

“I don’t know how we would have done it to be honest if we weren’t able to be here and have the support.”

“This is the best support network we could have had in a bad situation,” said Scott.

“It’s a place where you can gather yourself and feel that you’re not totally wearing yourself down t being at a bedside. If we weren’t right here, I think it would have broken us.”

“We can’t say enough how grateful we are to have gone up here and to have had a place like this that we’ve called home for six weeks.”