Ronald McDonald House eases trauma for Geraldton family

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Tahlea Dalgety, 1, centre, with father Patrick Dalgety, mother Chelsea Cocking and siblings Ava Dalgety, 3, and Kai Dalgety, 5.
Camera IconTahlea Dalgety, 1, centre, with father Patrick Dalgety, mother Chelsea Cocking and siblings Ava Dalgety, 3, and Kai Dalgety, 5. Credit: Danella Bevis, The West Australian

Parents of a Wandina baby who lost her fingers and toes to meningococcal septicaemia are hopeful their resilient one-year-old will return to Geraldton in six weeks.

Tahlea Dalgety was admitted to Perth Children’s Hospital last October and put in a coma after contracting the disease, which has resulted in 11 surgeries, limb amputation and brain damage.

Last month, Tahlea was freed from long-term hospitalisation but has since been readmitted for medical care four times.

Doctors have allowed her to stay with her family at Ronald McDonald House, a charity that provides accommodation for regional families with hospitalised children.

Her mother, Chelsea Cocking, 23, said Tahlea’s recovery had been “two steps forward, one step back”.

“All of her skin grafts have healed well and the band-aids are off, we’re just managing the brain injuries now,” Ms Cocking explained.

“She’s progressed a lot faster than expected but she’s still unwell from a wounds point of view.

“We could all be going home in six weeks, but it depends as she can get sick really easily — a minor cold will send her to hospital.”

Ms Cocking has spent 259 nights at Ronald McDonald House with Tahlea’s father Patrick Dalgety and her two children, aged three and five, who now attend Perth schools.

She said while she had received constant support from loved ones in Geraldton, the experience had been nothing short of traumatic.

“It’s really opened our eyes though,” she said.

“You don’t realise when you live in your own town, in your own bubble, the things that happen to other people and then you come to a place like Ronald McDonald House and just get hit with it all.

“It’s been great here. Everyone is grieving in their own way and support each other, you have a shoulder to cry on and you give them a shoulder to cry on. Even if we were financially in a position to afford a hotel, we wouldn’t trade the house for anything.”

Ms Cocking stayed in RMH when her five-year-old son was rushed to Perth for brain scans because he was having seizures last May.

She said she was extremely grateful for donors who got behind families like hers and helped Ronald McDonald House continue to thrive.

Last weekend, 20 riders began a 387km journey to raise $240,000 for RMH. The group crossed the event finish line in Perth on Tuesday.

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