News Staff November 19, 2018

A Sacriston family have shared their emotional experience of spending their daughter’s first Christmas in hospital as she underwent lifesaving heart surgery to raise money for The Sick Children’s Trust.

Paul and Hannah Foster front The Sick Children’s Trust’s Christmas appeal ‘My Christmas Wish’ encouraging the nation to donate £30 to ensure that at least one child in hospital wakes up on Christmas morning with their family by their side.

In 2016, Amelia was born with a large hole in her heart and an aortic narrowing and was transferred to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital where she underwent major heart surgery, but required further surgery later that year. Amelia was taken to theatre just days before Christmas, and spent the festive season recovering in hospital, miles away from home. However, the couple along with their eldest daughter, Ellie, were supported by The Sick Children’s Trust in free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation located within the hospital grounds, meaning they were still able to celebrate Christmas together as a family at Amelia’s hospital bedside. The family want to ensure that others with seriously ill children in hospital are able to spend their Christmas together and have shared their experience in The Sick Children’s Trust’s Christmas appeal. Paul says:

“Because of Scott House we were able to spend Christmas together, as a family, something that should never be taken away from anyone.

“Originally, Amelia’s operation was scheduled for the end of December. But we received a call to say that there had been a cancellation and they wanted Amelia in. This meant we would be spending our first Christmas with Amelia in hospital – and Ellie would be spending it away from us. It was really emotional, because on the one hand we were relieved our baby’s surgery was happening soon, but on the other our family was going to be separated on the most special day of the year. We felt torn and heartbroken.

“Hospital life this time round was a lot tougher. But with thanks to the amazing staff at Freeman Hospital and The Sick Children’s Trust it was much easier. We didn’t have to leave Ellie with her grandparents and spend Christmas without her because of Scott House, where we could be together as a family and stay while Amelia was being treated in hospital. And it really did lift so much pressure off our shoulders.

“Spending Christmas in hospital can be an extremely upsetting time, but the nurses at Freeman Hospital and the team at Scott House made it so special for all of us. The nurses on the paediatric intensive care unit would sit with Amelia and Ellie to make sure they were ‘tracking Santa’ in the days leading up to Christmas. And on Christmas Eve, we popped Ellie’s presents under the Christmas tree in Scott House, so on Christmas morning, she woke up with all the excitement a little girl should. Santa had managed to find out where she was living, despite her worrying that he wouldn’t know.”