WITH Easter just around the corner many children will be hoping for a special visit from a certain chocolate-toting rabbit, including three-year-old Riley McRae.
Chosen to be one of the many faces of the 2014 Mater Little Miracles Easter Appeal, Riley was diagnosed with the potentially fatal blood condition Rhesus iso-immunisation, a condition shared by his siblings, while in-utero.
Due to the severity of the disorder, Riley's mum Melissa had to travel 120 kilometres each week to receive treatment at Brisbane's Mater Children's Hospital.
"It was a long journey but we were in the best possible care and it was worth it," Mrs McRae said.
"The care we received from the Centre for Maternal Fetal Medicine at Mater Mothers' Hospitals was outstanding and Doctor Glen Gardener monitored and scanned me during my pregnancy with Riley every week.
If left untreated, Rhesus can cause severe anaemia and death in unborn babies.
At 34 weeks' gestation, Riley was born weighing just 2360 grams.
Unable to breathe, he was rushed to Mater's Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) where he was placed on a machine to help his respiratory system and given the first of two blood transfusions.
"His little system crashed and it was pretty traumatic to watch - both times we wondered if he could actually survive.
"The kind of transfusion he required was very high risk with a chance of death or brain damage but the risks were greater if we didn't do it."
After eight days in NCCU-and his second blood transfusion, Melissa and husband Rob were able to take their son home.
Mrs McRae said although juggling work on the family property at Lower Mount Walker and travelling was a little overwhelming, there was no other choice.
"It was hard but we got through it and I think Riley knows he's doing something important and I'm sure he's enjoying the attention."
Running a commercial cattle and irrigated cropping business, the McRaes are very excited to be part of the Easter appeal.
"We felt so grateful to have such a fantastic medical team behind us and being part of the appeal gives us a chance to help raise money and awareness for the babies that they're supporting and it gives us a chance to give back to people who've helped us and our family out so much."
Thanks to funding from Mater Little Miracles, more than 2000 premature and seriously ill babies are cared for each year in the Mater Mothers' Hospital's Neonatal Critical Care Unit.
Funded through purchasing Miracle Max merchandise from IGA, Bendigo Bank and Guardian Pharmacy, the 2014 appeal hopes to raise as much as $1.5 million to make future little miracles happen.
* For more information and to donate visit www.materfoundation.org.au