Nurse Colleen Moore and her husband Dr Marrillo Jayasuriya were married at the Townsville Hospital.
Nurse Colleen Moore and her husband Dr Marrillo Jayasuriya were married at the Townsville Hospital.

Wedded bliss turns to tragedy as baby boy dies

A GRIEVING newlywed couple have opened up about their final moments as a family with their newborn son who tragically passed away three days after he was welcomed into the world.

Parents Colleen and Marrillo Jayasuriya said there was a sad beauty in saying goodbye to Leo but wanted to give their "brave lion-hearted boy" the best possible send-off.

"We had these actual moments of touching him, he was on us, kissing him," Dr Jayasuriya said.

"We couldn't do those sorts of things before.

"We are truly heartbroken, it's devastating not having Leo with us."

Leonardo Jayasuriya was born at the Townsville Hospital after Ms Jayasuriya was referred from Cairns after going into premature labour at 24 weeks.

Nurse Colleen Moore and her husband Dr Marrillo Jayasuriya were married at the Townsville Hospital.
Nurse Colleen Moore and her husband Dr Marrillo Jayasuriya were married at the Townsville Hospital.

The sudden change of plans prompted Ms Jayasuriya, who is a clinical nurse, and her husband, who is an emergency registrar at the Cairns Base Hospital, to get married in the Townsville Hospital gardens, with the help of staff.

"We wanted to be a united family when he arrived." Dr Jayasuriya said.

The newly married couple welcomed their baby boy the same day, naming him Leonardo for its meaning 'lion-hearted and brave' knowing challenges would lie ahead.

Leo was delivered by emergency caesarian where his dad was able to cut the umbilical cord before he was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for critical care.

Colleen Jayasuriya with her son Leonardo Jayasuriya holding hands through a NICU crib at Townsville Hospital.
Colleen Jayasuriya with her son Leonardo Jayasuriya holding hands through a NICU crib at Townsville Hospital.


Ms Jayasuriya shared the overwhelming moment she got to meet her boy some time later.

"I'd just woken up from having an emergency caesarean and they wheeled me there with Marrillo to see him," Ms Jayasuriya said.

"I was just amazed and in awe and I just grabbed his little hand and held on to him."

When Leo's condition deteriorated he was removed from his crib to be in his parents' arms as he passed.

"He laid on our chest for hours and all his observations were completely stable," Ms Jayasuriya said.

"We played him music and Marrillo sang to him, we had him blessed and read out a little reading my mum sent."

Marrillo and wife Colleen Jayasuriya lost their newborn baby Leo at three days old. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Marrillo and wife Colleen Jayasuriya lost their newborn baby Leo at three days old. Picture: Zak Simmonds


The parents said their final moments with Leonardo were "beautiful", after they took him outside to experience sunlight before he drifted away in the early afternoon on May 22 after suffering a catastrophic brain haemorrhage the day prior, changing the focus of care to keeping him as comfortable as possible.

"We got everything off him that was clinical," Ms Jayasuriya said. "He felt the proper air, the sunshine and then it rained, there was even a sun shower."

"We laid on blankets on the grass and one of the nurses came over and sang 'Little Ray of Sunshine' to him."

As a doctor, Dr Jayasuriya understood the severity of the situation for both mother and baby given how early he arrived.

"I'm ridiculously proud," Dr Jayasuriya said. "Even medically she had a huge operation, traumatic experience and it became a huge emergency. She was just so determined to get to Leo."

The couple said they're overwhelmed with the level of care and support they've received from staff at the Townsville Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.

Treating doctor neonatologist Kirsty Devine said Leo's final day was "profound".

"It was beautiful having Leonardo open his eyes and look around, experience a sun shower, and see a sunbird; it's almost like he experienced all four seasons in his short time," Dr Devine said. "Marrillo and Colleen are incredibly brave and we are so grateful to have played a part in Leonardo's story."



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