Can you help? Orphaned triplets cared for by grandparents
NOT quite two years old, Bundaberg triplets Tom, Sam and Emily Benn have already endured more challenges than most of us will experience in a lifetime.
On September 1, 2014 they were born via emergency C-section, 104 days premature and with a combined weight of 1.75kg.
But the triplets, who were dubbed "miracle babies" by the staff at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, were faced with another hurdle on May 13 this year when their mother, 32-year-old Danielle Benn died in tragic circumstances.
Now being cared for by their grandparents, Dianne and Geoff Benn, with the help of their aunt Kayla Benn, the family has reached out for help.
Never expecting to be raising children in their retirement, pensioners Geoff and Dianne want to set up a grant for the triplets in the event something should happen to them.
"I worked it out, we'll be in our 70s when the triplets turn 18," Geoff said.
Plagued by a traumatic childhood experience, Danielle had struggled with mental health issues but with the support of her family and after a number of good years, she spoke with her parents about wanting to start a family.
Dianne and Geoff said they didn't make the decision lightly and did a lot of soul searching but ultimately Danielle had so much love to give and a heart of gold, so they supported her decision to undergo IVF and travelled overseas for the treatment.
"It (IVF) didn't work the first time, she lost the baby the second time and the third time they planted three embryos, so they had the best possible chance and they all took," Geoff said.
"She desperately wanted to become a mother and she was a good mum," Dianne said.
But excitement and joy was replaced with fear and concern as the triplets were born 15 weeks early and began the fight of their lives.
"Emily was the big one, she was 625g, Tom was 618g and Sam was just 515g," Dianne said.
"On many many, many occasions we thought we lost them. We saw some horrible things; the boys had to be bagged on a number of occasions."
"She (Danielle) went through a month before she even got to have a hold," Geoff said.
The tiny triplets spent months in hospital and are still undergoing medical treatment for a range of conditions. Emily was born with a cleft pallet and Sam and Tom have chronic lung disease.
But the constant medial appointments in Brisbane and trying to look after three babies took its toll and on May 13 this year Danielle lost her battle with depression.
"I think the stress of the triplets, Danielle was overwhelmed," Dianne said.
"It just got really difficult and the last seven or eight months she was in the darkest place. It was just too painful," Geoff said.
Kayla, who moved from Brisbane back to Bundaberg to help her parents, has set up a GoFundMe page in hope of raising funds to help her parents secure the triplets' future.
"Mum and dad had to buy three of everything - cots, clothes, shoes," she said.
"They even had to buy a van to fit the three cars seats in."
Geoff said they had never been ones to put out their hand for anything but his faith in people had been restored seeing how generous people were.
Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/24c6m8c or via the PayPal account, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you know needs support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.