Marley’s story

May 17, 2024


When Marley was born he could have fit in the palm of your hand. He was extremely premature, born four months early at 24 weeks, in April 2016.

Immediately after birth, he was whisked away and placed into a special incubator for premature babies.

He was covered in tubes to help him breathe since his lungs hadn’t had the time to fully develop.

His mum, Kellie, recalls:

“It was minute by minute, hour by hour when Marley was born. The doctors didn’t think he was going to hold on for much longer.”

Every minute counts when a baby is born so early in their life. Marley needed all the help he could get just to stay alive.

His parents, Steve and Kellie, were faced with the devastating reality of not knowing whether their precious baby would ever be able to come home with them.

It was a balancing act for Marley’s doctors. Too much breathing support could have irreversibly damaged his tiny lungs. Too little and this beautiful boy wouldn’t be here today. Kellie shared:

Some days, I knew the only reason I got to hold him was because the doctors didn’t think he was going to hold on for much longer.

The odds for Marley’s survival were against him but after 183 days – more than six months in hospital – Marley was finally well enough to go home for the first time.


“Ever since then we’ve always been in and out of hospital. It is part of our life. It’s hard but you have no choice.”


When Marley was 12 months old, Steve and Kellie were referred to Very Special Kids.


Here they tell how that changed their lives.

This was a turning point for a family who had already been through so much, a ray of light through dark clouds. The relief they desperately needed to make daily life just that little bit easier to manage.


I know you’ll agree that having a child with a life-limiting illness would be unbelievably tough. But for regional families like Marley’s, life can be even tougher.


This is why Very Special Kids offers regional and rural support services.


Whether in Malvern or the Mallee, Nurmurkah or Nunawading, every child with a life-limiting condition is precious and deserves the best quality of life.


Currently, nearly 800 families across Victoria are accessing our support services, but this work can only continue with the support from our very special community. You can be a ray of light for children like Marley and their families.

Having a very special child can also be isolating, so it is crucial to provide a network of support by connecting regional families with peer-to-peer support groups and coffee mornings and providing long-term compassionate counselling for all members of the family. 

With your support, regional support services go further than just making the children’s hospice more accessible.

Families like Marley’s can create cherished memories together through holiday accommodation at Glen Osmond Farm or family fun days at local attractions like the Adventure Park Geelong.

We can only keep up our specialist care for every family like Marley’s with your help.


Please make a donation today to help bring light, laughter and rainbows to families like Marley’s.