A July edition of The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly carried a compelling photograph of a tiny hand with a wedding ring around its wrist. That wrist belonged to Gisborne boy Ethan Gill, who seven years ago was born three months premature, not much bigger than a human foot. Cass Mason found out a little more about Ethan’s miracle life story.
SEVEN -year-old Ethan Gill is one tough little guy.
While these days you might find the Gisborne youngster kicking a soccer ball down at Watson Park with his dad Phillip, he had a monster battle to get there.
Ethan’s mother, Lisa Gill, knew that her IVF baby always faced the risk of arriving early.
But when she went into labour at her sister’s wedding only 24 weeks into her pregnancy, she was not prepared.
“You know the risks going in but once you’re pregnant and you get past the 12-week mark, you never ever think something like that will happen.”
Ethan arrived six hours later and had to be put immediately on a ventilator to keep him alive.
He then spent close to five months in hospital, in which time he had to endure surgeries on his bowel, heart, hernia and one of his eyes.
“His stomach was too young to take milk and his bowel perforated,” Lisa says.
“He was black and swollen from the waist down.”
Over the next two years Ethan survived brain bleeds, chronic lung disease and two bouts of pneumonia.
“Not once in that time did the hospital staff say he would be OK. It was 50-50 the whole time,” Lisa says.
One of those years was spent constantly hooked up to an oxygen supply.
Yet, incredibly, Ethan has not been hospitalised since.
Lisa says that is “unheard of” for someone who started out in his condition.
“We had that moment several times early on where the hospital staff sat us down and asked us if we wanted the ventilator turned off.”
While Ethan has very mild cerebral palsy stemming from his premature birth, he now plays for his school soccer team and says there is not much he can’t do.
“He just gets better as he gets older,” said Mrs Gill. “He should never have done as well as he’s done. I look at him as a miracle.”