Charting a healthy outlook for paediatric neurology

Early in 2018, eight-year-old Renner Hudson woke up with a sore eye and a loss of balance. His mother, Catherine Mackey, a school teacher outside of Sydney, took Renner to the local hospital where they diagnosed a virus and sent him home. Renner's condition deteriorated throughout the day to the point where he couldn't walk and lost control down his right side. A return trip to the local hospital had a paediatrician worried and a call was made to Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

Renner and his mother Catherine were taken by ambulance to the Neurology Department at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick where they were immediately seen by a team of specialists, including Allens Fellow Emma Macdonald-Laurs, who diagnosed a stroke in the main artery of his brain. By 1am, Renner was in theatre having a procedure that only 11 children in the world have undergone, to remove the clot in his brain.

Renner spent five days in ICU but – remarkably – has no ongoing deficit as a result of the speedy intervention he received.

In 2018, Allens celebrated a transformative 20-year partnership with Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick and Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation, through which the firm funds an annual Paediatric Neurology Fellowship. The first donor-funded fellowship at the hospital, it provides specialist neurology training for a junior paediatric doctor. In Renner's case, Dr Emma Macdonald-Laurs, the 2018 recipient of the Fellowship, was on hand to diagnose and treat his stroke.

Associate Professor Annie Bye AM, Head of Neurology at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, speaks passionately about the fellowship program.

'The Allens Paediatric Neurology Fellowship is one of the longest fellowships offered in Australia's teaching hospitals.

'A large proportion of paediatric neurologists in Australia and New Zealand have studied through the program. This is a remarkable achievement that has strengthened our workforce.

'The investment in the Fellowship has a ripple effect. It enables doctors to receive additional training to go on to practice, assisting thousands of children like Renner.'

The impact of the Allens Fellowship extends nationally, with alumni from the program now practising at hospitals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and New Zealand. The Allens Fellow could be involved in the care of up to 5000 children in the first year of their fellowship and up to 150,000 throughout the course of their career. The training they receive during their fellowship also extends to other health professionals through knowledge transfer – each fellow could train up to 240 doctors, nurses and students in their first year, with up to 7200 childcare professionals trained, supervised, mentored and supported during their career.

2018 Allens Fellow Dr Emma Macdonald-Laurs said she owes her training to the Fellowship: 'A fellowship like this provides a truly unique opportunity that has significant ongoing benefits.'

Each year, Allens clerks witness first-hand the extraordinary work undertaken by the Allens Fellows and Associate Professor Bye through a visit to Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick. This is frequently identified by the clerks as a highlight of their time with the firm.

'We are honoured to partner with the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick and the Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation to create a lasting legacy for paediatric neurology treatment in Australia,' said Kate Towey, head of Allens' Philanthropy Committee.

'For 20 years, we've watched on with great pride as the impact of the Allens Fellowship has extended beyond Sydney to the rest of Australia and the region. Thanks in part to our summer clerks' annual visit to the hospital, there is an immense sense of personal investment in the fellowship program at all levels of our firm.'

'Our partnership with Allens is about so much more than just receiving a cheque each year to fund a position.'

Associate Professor Bye

'We love Allens' ongoing interest in our work and the time they take to get to know the recipient of the Fellowship. We look forward to the annual summer clerks visit as we show the clerks our world and we hope they leave the hospital with a sense of the work we do and the contribution the fellowship makes.'

Jim Dwyer, Susan Wynne, Renner Hudson, Ross Drinnan, Dr Emma Macdonald-Laurs, Catherine Mackey, Millie Grant, Prof Annie Bye