“My baby was born at 26 weeks. Meet him at age 17”

Mum Mandi recalls the long journey when her baby Oscar was born early…

“My husband, Warren and I, were very excited when we finally saw those two pink lines on the pregnancy stick after five months of trying.

“But at my 12-week ultrasound, I was told my baby was ‘small for dates’. Then at 18 weeks, it was confirmed that I had pre-eclampsia, a condition that can be life threatening to both baby and mum. Additionally, ‘foetal growth restriction’ was confirmed, in which oxygen, blood and nutrients were struggling to get through the umbilical cord to help Oscar develop.

“Just one week later my body experienced rapid changes — I had swollen feet, my breasts had doubled in size and my blood pressure was abnormal.

“I was admitted to hospital for complete bed rest and 24-hour surveillance. Warren and I were taken through NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) to prepare us for what might come – losing Oscar or delivering him life-threateningly early. It was heart-breaking to see the tiny babies with oxygen and tubes in their humidicribs.

“At 26 weeks, I was told Oscar’s oxygen supply was dangerously low and I had to deliver immediately by caesarean section.”

Oscar weighed just 662 grams when born.

“On the 3rd December, 2004, my baby boy was delivered. He weighed just 662 grams and squealed like a little mouse.  Hearing him squeal actually gave me great comfort, it was a sign to me he was ok. But within seconds he was whisked off to NICU and had a team of medics helping him. I was overwhelmed with emotion, happiness at having my first baby and scared on the unknown and what lay ahead, and just cried.”

first cuddle
Warren and Mandi with baby Oscar (left), and Mandi having her first cuddle.

“Oscar was born with chronic lung disease, an immature immune system, and every part of his body was underdeveloped. He had several intravenous drips to give him the nutrients he needed. A feeding tube, several monitors for blood, oxygen and respiratory vitals, were attached to his tiny little body. And he was wrapped in plastic to help regulate his temperature and minimise fluid loss, as his skin was so thin it wasn’t strong enough to contain heat.

“I was unable to touch Oscar for two weeks. After that, I touched him for the first time and changed his nappy, which was the size of a tissue, in his humidicrib. It was a real milestone.”

Jae with oscar
Big sister Jae feeding Oscar through a feeding tube.

“The first three months of Oscar’s life were very scary, knowing I could lose my baby at any moment. I stayed at Ronald McDonald House Monash for six months, which is located at the rear of the hospital, while Oscar was in NICU. It was a hugely emotional time. Some parents staying at Ronald McDonald House would leave the hospital, come back to the House for lunch, and return to find their baby had passed away.  

“The support staff and volunteers at Ronald McDonald House were amazing, as well as parent volunteers who’d stayed at the House during their own child’s illness, and went on to help support other families.”

Mandi with Oscar.

“The Ronald McDonald House volunteers would cook us meals, and do anything they could to support families, such as picking up children and other siblings from school, preparing rooms, and just being a friendly face, 24 hours a day.”

Oscar and his family and friends raise funds for McHappy Day every year.

“Today, my son is 17 years-old. Oscar loves basketball and music passionately. He plays football, cricket, goes fishing, is an avid fan of old school music and is learning to play the guitar.”

Oscar Fishing
Oscar is a pro’ when it comes to hooking a big fish, and loves music.

“He still has ongoing medical support and has throughout his life, but he wouldn’t be where he is today without the fantastic specialists and organisations like Ronald McDonald House who have helped us over the years.

“I am forever grateful to Ronald McDonald House Charities for giving our family hope, love, and support during such an emotional time of unknowing, and for providing myself and Warren with a home so close to the hospital, so we could be there for Oscar. They continued to help us over the years after Oscar was discharged, as we needed ongoing weekly hospital appointments for cardiology, physiology, hearing, vision, occupational therapy, sensory development, and other appointments.”  

Oscar age 17
Oscar was born weighing just 662 grams – the equivalent amount of water he is holding on the scales. Today he is 60kg and 5 foot 6 inches tall. Here, he is at his regular 6-month paediatrician check-up.

“Warren and I have done many volunteer initiatives over the years, including overnight stays at Ronald McDonald House to support other families, and raising funds for McHappy Day. All money raised really does make a difference to the lives of children with medical conditions and their families.

“Thank you Ronald McDonald House Charities, for all the work you do for families like ours, and the support you give.

“Today, Oscar and his friends are also involved with McHappy Day, raising funds, as a thank-you.”

Mandi with her sons Angus, 16, and Oscar, 17 (right).
Mandi with her sons Angus, 16, and Oscar, 17 (right).

Brought to you by McDonalds. McHappy Day will take place on Saturday 19th November and is crucial in raising funds for seriously ill children and their families supported by Ronald McDonald House Charities. Australians can support this year’s McHappy Day fundraiser by: 

  • From October 26 – November 19. Picking up a pair of $5 Silly Socks, or Helping Hands for $2, $10 or $50 from their local Macca’s or via McDelivery.
  • On McHappy Day (Saturday, November 19). Buying a Big Mac from their local Macca’s or via McDelivery, with $2 from every Big Mac sold going directly to RMHC.
  • Making a donation online by visiting

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