As a result of being born prematurely, Skye-Anne Ellard suffered from recurring kidney problems from a young age - and over the years that followed she became very familiar with the hospital system.
As it turns out those experiences must have left their mark, because the now 23-year old Adelaide careworker has turned her attention to carving a career in the health sector, and is currently studying nursing at Flinders University.
It wasn’t until her early teens, however, that she stumbled across the fact that she has a severe – and potentially fatal – anaphylaxis to morphine. It was when she was admitted to hospital as a 16-year old with a severe kidney infection and given morphine to better manage the crippling pain that the drama began.
“Never having had morphine before I was looking forward to the near-instant pain relief that had been promised to me, but what I got was certainly unexpected and nowhere near that outcome,” Skye says.
“As soon as the needle had been pushed into my IV I could feel the morphine moving into my vein and my body suddenly felt like it was on fire, with a horrific rash instantly spreading,” she says.
“My throat started to close up, I couldn't breathe, and the last thing I remembered before passing out was an alarm beeping, people running from all directions towards my room, and my mum being pushed out of the way.”
The emergency response was justified, with Skye going into respiratory arrest and having to be intubated and given shots of adrenaline to get her heart back to beating in a normal rhythm.
“When I woke up a few hours later the doctor told me it was the quickest and worst reaction to morphine that he had ever seen - so for my own piece of mind I became a Medic Alert member and invested in a bracelet,” she says.
After already surviving one near-miss, the decision to become a Medic Alert member was one that would save her life several years later.
“I had been out at a music festival at Glenelg and was walking with some friends when we were jumped and bashed in the middle of a busy street,” Skye says.
“After being knocked to the ground, repeatedly punched in the head and kicked to the back of my skull and ribs I was barely conscious when an ambulance arrived.”
“The paramedics put me in a spinal collar and strapped me to a board, and even though I could see the paramedic inserting an IV line to give me morphine, I was in so much agony that I couldn't talk or move – and that’s when panic hit me.”
Skye managed to draw on her remaining strength to lift up her arm and the paramedic spotted her Medic Alert bracelet on her wrist and no morphine was given.
“While I was left to recover from serious injuries from the attack, I have no doubt that my bracelet saved my life that night – and I wear it every hour of every day, because something can happen in an instant and it could be my only chance of survival.”