Tamara Altmann with her son Lockie who was born 12 weeks premature.
Tamara Altmann with her son Lockie who was born 12 weeks premature. Contributed

Brave mum to continue fight with charity night

TAMARA Altmann is still finding the strength to talk four years after her baby boy "grew his wings".

Little Lockie was born 12 weeks premature on May 29, 2009, weighing no more than 1200 grams.

"To this day it breaks my heart that I can no longer hold his little hands or admire his sweet brown eyes," she told The QT

. "Imagine your daughter's baby doll she plays with, that's about the size of Lockie. If you pick up a kilo of flour and add a block of chocolate, that's about how heavy he was."

Mrs Altmann was flown from Bundaberg by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Brisbane at 1am, where she spent a week in the Mater Hospital before Lockie was born.

"I was given two steroid injections to help develop his lungs and give him the best start to life," she said.

"The doctors gave me medication to help stop me from going into labour, but as soon as they stopped this, I went into labour."

Lockie was born with no medical conditions other than being premature.

"Laying before us was a tiny baby with tubes and monitors connected to him everywhere," Mrs Altmann said.

"My eyes filled with tears of joy and my throat had a huge lump. I was shaking but I was so happy to finally be able to meet our son."

The mother-of-three said she will never forget his gorgeous little hands which could barely grasp her finger.

"Andy and I sat for hours in amazement. The nurses explained what all the monitors and tubes were for, but we were just so excited that our little boy had survived the birth.

"Only two people were allowed beside Lockie's humidity crib at a time, so when people came to visit it would be a waiting game until it was your turn to meet him.

"I remember sitting beside Lockie when he was only a few days old and wondering what he was going to be when he grew up, a ringer or a firefighter?

"It was so peaceful just sitting there for hours watching him and smiling every time he moved."

It was nearly six days before Mrs Altmann and her husband Andy would be able to properly see Lockie's face from the humidity crib.

"The doctors told us about a thing called necrotising enterocolitis but I didn't take much notice of this, as I thought it won't happen to him," she said.

"Lockie was doing so well. He only needed the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine for seven days. He was putting on weight and growing."

Lachlan Harry Altmann died at three weeks of age on June 22 after contracting necrotising enterocolitis.

After two weeks in the Mater Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, he was transferred to the Special Care Nursery and then to Ipswich Hospital.

"Lockie had caught necrotising enterocolitis, an infection in the gut or intestine, which usually develops in an infant that is already ill or premature," Mrs Altmann said.

"He had a very aggressive case and needed two blood transfusions and was put on a ventilator so his body could try and fight the disease.

"Sadly Lockie's tiny body couldn't fight any longer."

For the Ipswich parents, who now live in Toowoomba, the day they lost their little boy was the day they say their angel grew wings.

But they are not alone - more than 5000 babies are born prematurely in Queensland each year.

Mrs Altmann has launched Lockie's Legacy, a charity fund in which she aims to raise $20,000 for the Mater Mother's Hospital Neonatal Critical Care Unit.

"These funds will go towards ensuring that the team of professionals working with our special little babies have the highest quality training and education available," she said.

The Altmanns will hold a dinner and charity auction on Saturday at Drift Brookwater in honour of their son.

Among the items to be auctioned are holidays to Tuscany, Phuket and Port Douglas, a signed Queensland Reds jersey and much more.

For more details or to book, phone Tamara Altmann on 0437 818 301 or visit Lockie's Legacy on Facebook.

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