Baby heals as plans made to farewell grandmother

20:43, Sep 12 2012
Baby Carter and Chau
MILESTONE MOMENT: Chau holds Carter for the first time since he was critically injured in a fall on August 24.

A baby's parents have held him for the first time since he was critically injured in a fall which killed his New Zealand grandmother in Vietnam.

"It was a huge relief," Phil Preston, father of 3-week-old Carter, said when he and his partner Chau held him on Sunday, a day before Mr Preston flew back to New Zealand for his mother's funeral.

While it was a difficult decision to leave Vietnam, Mr Preston got the reassurance he needed when Carter was moved out of the intensive care unit, and he and Chau were able to cuddle him.

Carter was 4 days old and in his grandmother Julie Ferne's arms when she stumbled and fell over a rail in Mr Preston's home in Ho Chi Minh City on August 24.

Grandmother and baby plunged nearly seven metres on to a marble floor. The 68-year-old Aucklander had travelled to Vietnam to welcome her latest grandchild into the world.

Her sons say they know she would have protected Carter in the fall and credit her with saving his life.


Carter remained in the intensive care unit at Ho Chi Minh Children's Hospital for two weeks.

He was moved to a neonatal unit late last week and Chau could now see him every three hours and remain at the hospital 24/7, Mr Preston said.

"It's a great leap in the road to recovery," he said. "They get to have some mum and son time, which she's been waiting eagerly for."

Carter was bleeding from his brain following the accident. He had been making small improvements every day but still had a long road ahead of him, Mr Preston said.

Ms Ferne would be farewelled on Auckland's North Shore tomorrow to the tune of Abba's I Have A Dream, which summed up her thoughts on the afterlife and angels, Mr Preston said.

The artist and schoolteacher's coffin has been painted by friends and family, with a special place for each of her six grandchildren, including Carter.

Ms Ferne had told her sons - Phil, Stefan and Sean - that she wanted to make a difference while she was visiting Vietnam.

They set up a trust fund in her name to buy hospital equipment in Vietnam and it has raised close to $50,000.

Fairfax Media