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Sad twist to Shaun Miller's story

Posted by: Derryn Hinch | 28 May, 2012 - 4:27 PM
Shaun Wilson

Apart from the horror and the slaughter of children in Syria and the latest leadership questions out of Canberra, both of which I’ll get to later, one story has dominated the news today and it’s a story close to my heart. Literally. The story is organ transplants.

The Herald Sun today has a magnificent story over two pages about Professor Bob Jones and his Liver Transplant Unit at the Austin Hospital. In a high-pressure series of medical miracles they performed eight liver transplants in ten days.

That this team of amazing medicos and their support group could do so many successful life-saving operations – lasting between seven and 15 hours – in such a short time was miracle enough.

That so many donor families made those life-saving gifts around the same time was just as miraculous.

But you also have to keep in mind that also meant eight families were grieving.

And another transplant family is grieving right now because of the weekend death of that brave teenage battler, Shaun Wilson-Miller. The young man who gained international respect when he posted a goodbye video on YouTube.

The young boy who had had two heart transplants went back into hospital on Thursday and died on Saturday.

There is a background story to that, that not many people want to talk about. And I think the 3AW listeners who took Shaun into their hearts and even donated towards a trip to Disneyland should know about.

What you don’t know, and they don’t want you to know, is that  Shaun spent 17 hours in Emergency before he finally got a bed at the Royal Children’s Hospital.  Seventeen hours. That’s a disgrace. Here we’ve got this multi-million dollar brand-spanking new, whiz-bang children’s hospital, opened by the Queen and they can’t find a bed for a young man with a transplanted heart dying from an infection? 

After a few hours sleep Shaun’s distraught father Cameron Miller, gave a friend, Paula Stevens, permission to approach the Mitchell program here on 3AW.

They called the Media department at the hospital to verify it was true and guess what? Within ten minutes producer Seb Costello got a call back saying: ‘Good news, we’ve got a bed for Shaun’.

I talked to Shaun’s father today and he diplomatically said: ‘ It’s the first time they’ve got it wrong. They were wonderful to Shaun for 17 years’.

Paula Stevens is not that forgiving:  She wrote to me and said:

My concern is, what about all the other children who don't know Neil Mitchell who are left for 17 hours and God knows how much longer before they can get a bed. I know terminally ill children cannot go to a normal ward, but isn't it suspicious that there were NO beds available, then all of a sudden after the Mitchell call there was a bed available. You are a Maverick and have my utmost respect this is why I'm sending you this message. Myself and others also think if Shaun had been admitted sooner, he could have had his operation to drain the two litres of fluid out and maybe he might have been around for a little bit longer to go to his Luna Park Party, we will never know, but something is stinking in Denmark’.

It does add more sorrow to an already very sad time.

Footnote: Speaking of sadness. There is some tinged with anger and frustration among the team that treated Shaun. Apparently, he didn’t help himself by neglecting to take his vital anti-rejection medication. I know from personal experience, it’s a chore, but it keeps you alive. I have a phone alarm set permanently at 9am and 9pm  as a warning.

A family source said they had been warned that ‘teenagers have a mind of their own’ over things like medication and ‘teenagers do whatever they want’. But at times Shaun was so sick, and with the side effects, he just didn’t want to take the pills.

A source inside the hospital contacted me and said: I write this with a very heavy heart and said:

‘The RCH surgeons, doctors, nurses and support staff did everything it could to educate and support Shaun and his family in regards to the life-preserving need to take his anti-rejection medication.  tragically he did not. I  has left RCH staff shattered and angry. He would have lived a much longer, fulfilling life if he had taken his medication’.

Maybe even got to Disneyland.


Rest in Peace Shaun Wilson Miller

Shaun Wilson Miller RIP SHAUN: Our deepest condolences to the family of courageous teenager Shaun Wilson Miller who has passed away after battling a chronic heart condition. Neil Mitchell spoke to Shaun's Father, Cameron Miller, this morning.


Blog comments Your Say

  • If poor Shaun didn't take his medication properly, as has been proposed, this fact deserves to be widely publicised. His parents must take some responsibility for this, and it does sour the sad situation somewhat. Nobody's perfect, but it seems shameful neglect on the part of his parents, if it's true. Rule #1 of receiving good medical care: do as the doctor orders. If you don't you can hardly blame 'the system' for your problems.

    Lola Monday 28 May, 2012 - 7:17 PM
  • I am totally disguised. As a transplant recipient I have got stories that will make your hair curl. The hospital system is a joke. I am equally sick to the stomach that the hospital, Transplant Team, Nurses and Surgeons have publically outed Shaun for not taking his anit-rejection meds. I dose not fill me with confidence in my team or the hospital. I personally have made may of a complaint, be it written or verbal, to no avail. Itâ??s not just the Childrenâ??s Hospital, but wide spread. I suggest the Childrenâ??s Hospital tread carefully here. There are a lot of transplant recipients that have gone through the system for many years and know it inside and out. Yes I am grateful for my gift of life yet does this mean I have to put up with abuse?

    Susie Monday 28 May, 2012 - 5:53 PM
  • My son had a kidney transplant in 1987 at Monash Clayton. they were wonderfull to him, but like Shaune did'nt like taking the anti-rejection medication which then was a liquid that had to be put in milk, which he hated, and when he did drink it, there would be a scum around the edge he refused to finish. That kidney failed after 2 years, and he went on dialysis for the first time. Heomo first, and he managed to crush both fistulas in his arms by not wanting to stay off his motor bike or skate board, we just could'nt hold him down. he then went on peritinial dialysis, and was doing fine while living with me, until he went to live with his girlfriend, then went to Tassie to live with his Dad when he got out of jail. His father did'nt really care about making sure he did dialyse, so my son died of a massive heart attack on the 29th May, 1994 after being left alone in the house, he was nearly 20

    jennifer williams Monday 28 May, 2012 - 5:00 PM
  • Hinch

    You continue to set the bar ever higher with the exceptional articles you have revealed to the Australian public over the last week. Healthcare is not a privilege, it is a service we have already paid for. As an individual and as an Australian I am proud to witness an honourable journalist and media company dig in their heels and present what must be presented with disregard for personal danger or accolade. How is it that an intrepid journalist can do so much to expose such extensive abuse in such a short period of time when the vastly more powerful and influential politicians are doing absolutely nothing. I will use the words of two great men to assist the morally bankrupt politicians to find the long lost honour and integrity that once lived within them. I also throw down the challenge to our constitutional lawyers and every other individual and facility with the power to assist their great nation of Australia.
    Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country â?? JFK
    Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once â?? Julius Caesar.
    These great men and the words of these great men illustrate that the power of evil people who live amongst us is great but can only be great if we allow it. The bodies of valiant men can be killed by the evil doers but their legacy cannot be killed by anyone or anything. The power of evil parties if closely scrutinised is in reality a hollow façade when compared to the power of the people. Our destiny has always been, is and will always be in our own hands.

    Set The Bar Monday 28 May, 2012 - 4:48 PM

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