Family agony as rare illness leaves 7-year-old in coma
WITHIN a few hours Max Bennett went from being a happy and playful seven-year-old boy to surviving on life support in the intensive care unit.
Rachel and Wayne Bennett are enduring a nightmare no parents should have to face as they watch on helplessly while their son battles a rare illness.
"He was playing around on Sunday and then he came to me and said he had a sore neck and was quite upset with it. We thought he'd pulled a muscle," Mrs Bennett said.
"We gave him some Panadol and he seemed to be ok, quiet but ok.
"But then at about eight, he came to us and said his eyes were fuzzy and he couldn't feel his hands.
"Within 20 minutes, he had collapsed and couldn't move."
Max was taken to St Vincent's hospital and put through multiple tests, but the doctors couldn't work out what was wrong with him.
He was then rushed to the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane where he was put into an induced coma and on life support and has been fighting the illness since.
After an MRI and spinal tap, the doctors diagnosed Max as having transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of one level, or segment, of the spinal cord.
The condition attacks the nervous system and causes paralysis.
Mrs Bennett said Max had been showing small signs of recovery, but at this stage it was a waiting game and doctors were unsure whether it was partial or complete which could leave Max with a disability.
"It is honestly the scariest thing watching him go downhill so quickly," she said.
"He's such an active boy but he's been so brave, and that's giving us comfort and strength.
"It's hard. Your life pretty much stops. We have two other girls who haven't seen us since Sunday. You've got three healthy kids and then you've got none of them by your side.
"You're in shock but you do what you have to do to cope."
She wanted to thank the doctors and nurses at St Vincent's and in the intensive care unit at Lady Cilento.
"They have been amazing and looked after both him and us as if we were their own family."
The family's friends have been devastated by the news and have rushed to support the family any way they can.
Tiffany Wilson, whose daughter Mia is in the same grade as Max at Toowoomba East State School, has set up the Help Max Bennett Go Fund Me campaign.
"I set it up so they wouldn't have to stress about the financial aspect of the recovery by the looks of it is going to be a long one," she said.
"It's horrible, absolutely horrible.
"I know you hear people say it but they actually are the nicest people in the world. It's the least we can do, all the families are getting behind to help.
"If we can all support them. It's a really rare condition. I never knew of it until it's happened."
Help Max by visiting Go Fund Me.