WHAT was meant to be a relaxing family holiday in the sunshine turned into an extended stay at a Bangkok hospital for the Marshall family, after their daughter required emergency medical treatment.
The family of four from Eaton left Perth on June 26 and have yet to return home after 18-month old Amarli nearly lost her life to a flesh eating bacteria that attacked part of her lung.
Sharna and Brendan Marshall, with daughters Kensi, 4, and Amarli, had planned to spend time with friends on their 10-day holiday in Khao Lak, two hours from Phuket.
Sharna Marshall, originally from Collie, said what started as a suspected cold resulted in their daughter being airlifted to a Bangkok hospital.
“Amarli got sick while we were there, with what we thought was a bit of a cold or something like that,” she said.
“We had a doctor come and check her in the hotel and he said she was OK.
“We were still a bit worried so we ended up taking her to Phuket hospital on July 3.”
Mrs Marshall said the medical team did a chest x-ray and various other tests on Amarli, and was told she had contracted pneumonia.
“Then on Monday morning everything sort of turned fairly dramatic,” she said.
“They said there was a lot more going on than just pneumonia, they were concerned and said they were going to fly us to Bangkok hospital as they had a better team of doctors, were more qualified, and had better facilities to handle her case.”
“At that point they couldn’t really tell us what was wrong only that she had very low red blood cells, very low white blood cells, and very low platelet count, so her blood wasn’t clotting the doctors were really concerned.”
Mrs Marshall said they were flown to Bangkok where Amarli was admitted in a stable but critical condition on July 5.
“They couldn’t figure out what was going on, and what was happening to her, they had not seen anything like it before,” she said.
“She had a team of doctors working on her; a lung doctor, a kidney doctor, a surgeon, a blood doctor, and an infectious disease specialist, so she had a team of people trying to determine what was wrong.”
“In the end she had Streptococcus Necrotising Pneumonia, which means it was flesh eating.”
Mrs Marshall said the severe infection was attacking Amarli’s lungs.
“The only way to solve that problem was to remove part of her lung,” she said.
“She had a lobectomy, and they removed the lower left lung.”
Amarli was also battling Haemolytic Rhymonic Syndrome, an immune reaction that causes low red blood cells.
“She was diagnosed with acute renal failure as well, which meant she had to have haemodialysis for about 12 days all up to help fix her kidneys,” Mrs Marshall said.
“It was just one thing after another.”
Mrs Marshall said it had been a difficult time for the family.
“We’ve been away for 6 weeks or so now, which is pretty tough when you are in a foreign country dealing with hospitals and language barriers,” she said.
“It has been a little difficult with the language barrier but the doctors have been just phenomenal.
“And the nurses in the ICU, I think we have made some lifelong friends, they have just been magnificent and they have done everything they can to understand us and make sure we understand them.”
Amarli was discharged last Friday from hospital after spending 34 days there, and is now staying in a hotel with her family.
“We can’t fly until she has the OK to fly from the doctors because of the lobectomy she had,” Mrs Marshall said.
“When we are out we have to be very careful because we don’t want her to catch anything, obviously her immune system is a little bit compromised at the moment.
“We want to make sure she doesn’t catch anything else because at this point she could end up sick again rather quickly.
“We have another X-ray this week and that will give us the OK to fly, so hopefully we are back home by the end of next week, fingers crossed.”
Mrs Marshall said the doctors were unsure where Amarli had contracted the disease.
“It’s very hard to know where she picked it up, they think she may have picked it up on the plane in incubation, she had a slight sniffle when we came over but nothing that concerned us,” she said.
“They couldn’t really pin point where it was but pneumonia is obviously in the air and she was just susceptible at the time.”
Mrs Marshall said Amarli is recovering well despite the ordeal.
“She had to kind of learn to walk again, and she is still getting sorted on her feet and she is doing remarkably well,” she said.
“The doctors have been amazed at how sick she was, and they were really concerned that we would lose her, and then on the other side of that how quickly she has recovered.
“Her lungs are functioning really well for someone who is missing part of a lung, they said there is not going to be any long term impacts on her health.”
Mrs Marshall said their insurance is covering most of the unexpected costs.
“We have insurance and they are covering most of it but my husband is unable to work so we will find it pretty tough when we get back,” she said.
“We are looking forward to coming home.”
Mrs Marshall said Amarli is back to her normal cheeky self a part from a couple of scars.
“Thank you for all the people who sent wishes, love, support and strength, Facebook is a wonderful tool for that,” she said.
“People have been absolutely so generous and we are just blown away by the support our family and friends and the community have shown, it’s fabulous.
“My sisters Anthea and Kendra and brother Clayton set up an online fundraising page to help.”
To donate to the Marshall family go to: https://www.gofundme.com/2ek9rn2s