“I always knew that it was ridiculous the amount of clothes she had, she could never wear that many clothes. But I always thought ‘well there’s going to be a day when I’m not going to be able to buy them anymore.”
Fiona Engwirda

Mark and Fiona Engwirda are one of thousands of Queensland families who have loved and lost a child to a life-limiting condition.  They understand why Queensland needs Hummingbird House.

Their beautiful daughter Kate suffered from a weak heart, and microcephaly (small head and brain) causing severe epilepsy and respiratory difficulties.

At nine months Kate has open heart surgery to fix her heart condition. The heart didn’t repair the way doctors had hoped. At that point the Engwirdas we were told their time with Kate could be as short as five months or as long as five years.

The Engwirda family did all they could to make the most of every moment with Kate while ensuring she received the 24-hour care she required for the next 15 months.

“When you’re looking after her at home, you have several alarms that could go off at night, and they did. They all went off. So we would be lucky to get an hours sleep.”

“It could be any night that the seizure meds weren’t working for some reason and then we’d be off and back to the hospital. It was sort of a very uncertain life.

Like all families travelling a similar journey, all sense of normality was lost.

“I always knew that it was ridiculous the amount of clothes she had, she could never wear that many clothes. But I always thought ‘well there’s going to be a day when I’m not going to be able to buy them anymore.”

The family travelled inter-state to a purpose-built facility to get respite. On the second night Kate had a severe episode. She was struggling to breathe.

“We were in a hospice in New South Wales when we kissed Kate, told her we loved her, and said goodbye. We had travelled over 1,000 kilometres to that hospice, because there was nowhere for us to go in Queensland. Hummingbird House has changed that.”