Two-year-old Luella had open-heart surgery in NSW — now the QLD Government won’t let her isolate at home

A two-year-old girl could be required to recover from open-heart surgery in hotel quarantine — against the wishes of her doctors — because the Queensland Government refuses to grant her family an exemption.

Luella Gilliland underwent the surgery, for the second time in her life, at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney last week.

The life-saving operation could not be delayed and was already in motion when Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor Government closed the border to people who had visited New South Wales.

“She’s having night terrors, she’s still very emotional, obviously asking, ‘When can we go home?'” her mother Laurren Gilliland told the ABC.

“She’s reached her coping abilities for a toddler who has just gone through a traumatic event such as open-heart surgery.”

Returning Queensland residents are currently required to go into hotel quarantine, but Luella’s doctors say that would harm her recovery.

“There are significant psychological and physical risks that are posed to Luella,” her mother said.

The family hoped to go home to the Sunshine Coast next week, and submitted an application for an exemption to hotel quarantine.

But they were shocked when it was rejected by Queensland Health.

“We thought it would be a no-brainer — of course, they would let us isolate at home,” Ms Gilliland said.

“They wouldn’t put a toddler recovering from open-heart surgery … in hotel isolation,” she said.

A young girl is held by her mother on the beach.
Laurren Gilliland says Luella is traumatised by the surgery and needs to recover at home.(Supplied: Laurren Gilliland)

Exemptions from hotel quarantine have recently been given to the likes of pop-star Dannii Minogue, reportedly because she’s claustrophobic, and Brisbane Broncos Coach Anthony Seibold, when he returned from time in Sydney.

“Exemptions are rarely granted, and usually only in exceptional circumstances,” Queensland Health said in a statement.

Ms Gilliland is fuming that her daughter’s circumstances do not meet those standards.

“You’ve got celebrities, you’ve also got footballers, who have had these exemptions granted.

The family have lodged a second application with written statements from five doctors including Luella’s surgeon and paediatric cardiologist.

“Luella is at particular risk from COVID-19 given her underlying cardiac condition and should not be exposed to other individuals who may be infected with the virus, which is a risk in hotel quarantine,” one specialist wrote.

“It is critical for Luella to return to an environment that feels safe, predictable, and familiar for her when returning to Queensland,” another wrote.

“Two weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine exposes Luella to prolonged stress and is likely to impede her psychological adjustment following her surgery,” they said.

The family has even created their own “COVID Safe Plan” showing how they can isolate if they get home.

Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said compassion and common sense were needed.

“Sadly, little Luella and her family are victims of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s blatant politicisation of COVID-19,” she said.

“Labor were quick to roll out the red carpet for Dannii Minogue but, to their shame, won’t lift a finger to help this little girl,” she said.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles was contacted for comment, but has not provided a response.

But in a statement, his health department said there were processes in place to ensure people in hotel quarantine, who have complex medical needs, had access to appropriate health care.

“We understand the health directions in place are strict, however they are designed to protect Queenslanders from COVID-19.”

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