In March 1992, Richard and Sandra McDonald’s 19-year daughter Brooke fell ill and was rushed to Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital by ambulance. Soon after she was admitted, doctors said that Brooke had viral encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.
Sandra, Richard and Brooke’s two siblings said that Brooke was ‘larger than life’ and had the most engaging and beautiful personality. “Brooke was always brilliantly silly and the most fun person to be around, so the world changed when she got sick.”
Within two weeks, Brooke was in a coma and spent 106 days in the ICU high dependency unit before she passed away. The doctors tried everything they could but sadly, in July 1992, the McDonald family said goodbye to Brooke.
While the McDonald family was at the hospital, they got to know all the staff, from the doctors and nurses to the admin and cleaning staff. Sandra and Richard remember the staff very fondly and said, “All the staff came on the ride with us and provided such excellent care to our daughter.”
Sandra and Richard McDonald
Some of the staff even attended Brooke’s funeral and were so supportive during what was a very difficult time for the family.
After Brooke passed, the McDonald’s arranged to commission a painting by an Australian artist to hang in the hospital in her honour. Sandra and Richard were also so touched by the wonderful relationships they had with the staff that they began donating to Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital to say thank you.
15 years later, Sandra was at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital again but this time with her granddaughter. The ward clerk on duty recognised Sandra and they sat together talking about Brooke. It was then that Sandra and Richard realised how lucky her family had been to have been a part of a healthcare system that truly cared.
Sandra and Richard said, “We have been giving regularly to Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital for the past 30 years because they took such wonderful care of our daughter while she was ill and such good care of us as a family when she passed away. You never get over losing a child, but you find a comfortable place in your heart for it and it helped to have the best healthcare professionals around us. We have been giving monthly for years because it’s easy and effortless so I encourage others to consider doing the same.”