Miracle baby Sonny Davis being rushed from one hospital to another Photo: Supplied

Less than two weeks ago Sonny Davis entered the world fighting.

He has not stopped fighting since.

So impressive has the critically ill Townsville boy’s against-the-odds battle against the rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma been, doctors at Brisbane’s Royal Children’s Hospital have labelled him their “hero baby”.

Sonny Davis’s parents Corey and Aneka, with his 21 month old big sister Frankie Photo: Supplied

Sonny was diagnosed in utero after his mother Aneka noticed 32 weeks into her second pregnancy that her baby had suddenly stopped moving.

What followed was the stuff of parental nightmares.

Scans revealed the tiny boy had a stomach swollen by a six-centimetre tumour.

Sonny Davis’s parents Corey and Aneke, and his big sister Frankie, at RMH – their temporary home, trying to keep spirits up. Photo: Supplied

It had infiltrated his liver.

It was crushing his still-developing lungs.

His little heart was rapidly failing under the strain.

Townsville doctors decided the only shot he had at life was if his mother, a former WNBL and Olympic basketballer, delivered him eight weeks prematurely by emergency caesarean.

However, as father Corey Davis recalled, the doctors could not guarantee Sonny would survive the birth.

“They came and said to Aneka, ‘we might try to get you to Brisbane on a Royal Flying Doctor flight because if he can hang in there for another two weeks he has a lot more chance as a 34-week premmie than a 32-week premmie’, because it would give it time for his lungs to develop,” Mr Davis said.

“The next day they were doing all the readings and everything was going down and down.

“The doctor came back in and said, ‘the bub’s deteriorating on the spot, there’s no way we’ll get you to Brisbane, we need to do a C-section now’.”

Mrs Davis was rushed into surgery and not for the last time, Sonny defied doctors’ expectations by clinging to life.

“He wasn’t breathing, he was purple and bloated and he had a little baby oxygen mask they were pumping it into him and he just wasn’t moving,” Mr Davis said.

“It was probably close to two minutes but it felt like an hour.

“Then finally his hand wriggled.”

Gravely ill, Sonny had to be flown to Brisbane immediately for life saving chemotherapy to begin.

With his wife recovering from surgery and unable to fly Mr Davis had to make the trip with his son alone.

Once in Brisbane Sonny was raced to the Royal Women’s Hospital neo-natal intensive care unit.

But it would be two days before his condition was stable enough for chemotherapy drugs to be administered.

His blood pressure had skyrocketed, his heart rate was wildly elevated due to the cancer stemming from his adrenal glands and with his lungs crushed by the tumour, his oxygen uptake was low.

Doctors had to work to ensure all those elements had normalised before chemotherapy could commence.

“There were so many things he had to get sorted and he was so critical, it was touch and go that whole time,” Mr Davis said.

The young father slept for two nights on a futon at his son’s bedside, not knowing if his baby would pull through.

But the youngster fought on.

Mrs Davis arrived two days later with the couple’s 21 month old daughter Frankie and Sonny had stabilised enough for his chemotherapy was finally able to commence.

For three days a lifesaving cocktail of 20 drugs were poured into his bloodstream and for the first time, things were looking up.

For the first time in a week, Mr Davis took some time out.

It was Saturday, Caulfield Cup Day, so he and his father-in-law headed to a city pub to watch the race.

“At 3pm I was literally halfway through my first beer and [a] blocked number called,” he said.

“The doctor said, ‘you know that meeting we were going to have Sunday morning about moving Sonny to PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit), we are going to have it right now’.

“They said, ‘where are you?’

“I said, ‘I’m in the city,’ and they said ‘you need to get back here now.”‘

It was the beginning of Sonny’s biggest battle.

At less than a week old, his kidneys had shut down and there was no way for him to excrete the toxic chemotherapy byproducts.

Already swollen with fluid, the boy’s skin began to turn black as toxic blood stopped moving under his skin.

“The head oncologist said the worst thing that could happen is if his kidneys don’t flush and it all went good on Friday and early Saturday, she said, ‘it hasn’t happened’,” Mr Davis said.

“So when his kidneys shut down, they said the only way we can get all the crap out is through his blood.”

For what is believed to be the first time in Queensland, doctors used what remained of the boy’s umbilical cord to filter some of the toxic sludge out of Sonny’s body.

It wasn’t enough.

A specialist kidney team was recruited to put Sonny on dialysis.

With his condition rapidly deteriorating, doctors were forced to undertake the incredibly risky move of shifting him from the Royal Women’s Hospital to the Royal Children’s Hospital paediatric intensive care unit, so he could undergo dialysis.

“His kidneys were the only thing working so when his kidneys went s***, whoa,” Mr Davis said.

“Saturday wasn’t a good day.”

Mr Davis said the mood among the medical team who gathered to treat him was sombre on Saturday afternoon.

“There was a nurse who left Saturday and she said to us, ‘I’m on Monday so I might see you … ah, um, I mean I’ll see you Monday’,” he said.

“She didn’t mean to say it but we were like, ‘oh this is bad’.”

Once again Sonny defied the odds. He survived Saturday night.

It was then incredulous doctors labelled him their hero baby.

Once dialysis commenced, his condition steadily improved.

The toxic blood is slowly leaving his body, fluid build-up is subsiding and his kidneys are showing signs of recovery.

Not only that, doctors say he is responding to chemotherapy, meaning the cancer is unlikely to take his life.

However he remains the most critically ill patient in the PICU and highly susceptible to infection.

“The head consultant said he is gravely ill, he is on the brink every day,” Mr Davis said.

“This is no short fix, he will be here for months and months.”

Sonny still faces further rounds of chemotherapy and probably at least six more months in hospital.

Mr Davis joked he and his wife are the only parents hoping their newborn’s weight goes down.

Sonny was born weighing 3.2 kilograms but doctors estimate without the tumour he would be just 1.8 kilograms.

After the first round his weight has dropped below three kilograms, one of a number of positive signs the treatment is working.

In the meantime, the lives of Mr and Mrs Davis, both Townsville teachers, remain on hold.

The family is presently staying at Ronald McDonald House in Herston and eternally optimistic they will eventually take their little boy back to Townsville.

“He’s still in the woods but we can see a little bit of light in the woods,” Mr Davis said.

“At any stage anything can go wrong but he’s won every battle he’s fought.

“He’s got a good little spirit.”

A bank account has been established for donations to help support the Davis family.

Account name: C&A Davis.

BSB number: 114 879.

Account number: 412390421.

Westpac St George


Henry Sapiecha

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