STAYING POSITIVE: Caitlyn Harvey with her son Kenneth, 18 months, at the Brisbane Broncos vs Gold Coast Titans NRL match.
STAYING POSITIVE: Caitlyn Harvey with her son Kenneth, 18 months, at the Brisbane Broncos vs Gold Coast Titans NRL match. Contributed

Just 12 hours after he was born, their boy stopped breathing

JUST 12 hours after he was born, Kenneth Harvey stopped breathing.

The newborn went into respiratory distress, sending shock waves through first-time parents, Caitlyn and Brian.

Since then, it has been 18 months of more questions than answers, with little Ken's illness still a mystery.

Initially, doctors believed his large tonsils were the cause. But after they were removed, the breathing problems persisted.

On top of that, he has regular seizures and dealing with the ongoing battle has been a daunting challenge for the young family.

"It is quite confronting, and we have had huge problems," Mrs Harvey said.

"I myself have struggled with post-natal depression ... because of the situation we were put in from day dot.

"It was very hard, and I'm not from (Mackay originally) so I don't have the support network here which made things even harder."

Despite the regularity of his episodes, Kenneth remains a bright battler. Fortunately, while his illness is not yet diagnosed, it does not appear to be life-threatening.

Even still, his short life has been littered with doctors appointments - more than most adults would have to deal with.

The ordeal has included 15 nights at Ronald McDonald House in Brisbane where the family stayed for Kenneth's initial treatment and tests.

To paint a picture, Mrs Harvey said there was an eight-week period beginning in March where he had five bouts of tonsillitis and six different viruses.

In spite of this, she said he was constantly upbeat.

"I think that's the thing; he's been constantly sick for so long that he doesn't know any different. He kind of adapted to being unwell," Mrs Harvey said.

"He has just battled through, he has been brilliant. When he is well, he's well, but when he's sick he crashes.

"I've been back at work and to be completely honest everyone says they have no idea how I function. You've got to carry on with life, you can't let these things stop you and get you down."

Mrs Harvey was overawed by the support the family received from the Ronald McDonald House.

Not only did they receive endless assistance and comfort at the House, but they were invited to attended the NRL clash between the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans in a corporate box last week.

While the family are Melbourne Storm fans, the game was a surreal experience and brought endless joy to the 18 month old - who is already an avid rugby league fan.

Mrs Harvey said, for her, the most valuable part of the experience was being able to connect with other families who could relate to their situation.

"The whole box was Ronald McDonald families, so everyone understood something might not be right and you didn't need to explain anything," she said.

"To have that stress free time where you're getting waited on hand and foot is just amazing.

"You're with those families who are also going through difficult things, so to sit there and talk with them was amazing.

"They (Ronald McDonald House) go above and beyond everything they do."