Dad of rescued toddler says ‘never stop watching after your kid’

Meimezi and Yunhua Wong with their son Matthew (photo taken in December, when masks were not mandatory in WSLHD facilities)

For the Wong family, November 10 will never be just another day in the calendar. What started as a regular Tuesday, turned out to be one of the scariest days of their lives.

Meimeizi and Yunhua’s 14-month-old son Matthew was playing in the backyard when his mother was distracted for what felt like a moment. The next thing Meimeizi saw was Matthew falling head first into a full water tank.

When she pulled him out, Matthew was unconscious. Living close to Auburn Hospital, the parents made a quick decision to run to the emergency department with Matthew instead of waiting for the ambulance.

Medical officer Dr Pramod Chandru said timing played a crucial role in Matthew’s resuscitation.

“We were lucky the family lived nearby and their neighbour knew how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation),” Dr Chandru said.

“The first 10 minutes were an absolute blur for me. As the team started resuscitation, I was making calls to arrange their further hospital stay and check-ups.”

The emergency department team revived the boy in three minutes.

Emergency Staff Specialist Dr Kevin Lai and Medical Officer Pramod Chandru – happy to see Matthew healthy and happy

“It was such a relief when we had the pulse and heard him start to cry,” Dr Chandru said.

“Seeing Matthew’s mother’s emotions change from distress and fear to relief really stuck with me. I can’t even begin to imagine what his parents went through.

“They both bowed to us when they were leaving the emergency department.”

Three weeks later, Matthew’s parents paid a visit to Auburn Hospital to meet again the team who saved their son’s life.

“Seeing Matthew happy and healthy really made my day. Dressed up and smiling, his mother looks nothing like that scared woman who carried her unconscious child into emergency three weeks ago,” Dr Chandru said.

“This was definitely one of the highlights of my career.”

Wong family and Auburn Hospital’s Emergency Department staff involved in Matthew’s resuscitation

Many team members came to work on their day off to meet Matthew once again and give him an early Christmas gift – a wooden toy truck.

Meimeizi and Yunhua thanked the team and said they were forever grateful.

“Never stop watching after your child. Things can happen so quickly, you may not even notice. It is important to stay vigilant to keep your babies safe,” Yunhua said.

With the hot weather back in NSW, all children’s activities near the water must be monitored.

Auburn emergency staff specialist Dr Ker Fern Tan said it was important to keep it fun but safe.

“Drowning is one of the biggest risks during summer. Supervision and preventative measures are two important factors that can save many lives,” Dr Ker Fern said.

“Install locks and safety systems around swimming pools. Don’t leave children alone near the water, it does not matter how safe it looks. A child can drown even in a very small amount of water.

“In case of an incident, call 000 immediately. Early CPR can be lifesaving.”

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