A baby girl from South Yorkshire is set to celebrate her first Christmas after undergoing multiple surgeries during an 11 week stay in hospital.
Little baby Leia was born on 27 February this year but began struggling with her feeds less than 24 hours after coming home, choking a little and making loud noises while breathing. When Leia’s breathing worsened further, concerned parents Ellie-Jae, 23, and Luke Bingham, 23, rushed her to nearby Rotherham Hospital for urgent assessment.
Leia’s inability to swallow meant that she hadn’t properly fed for 16 hours. To remedy the issue, doctors tried to fit an NG tube so that food could pass directly into her stomach, which an x-ray revealed had failed due to the tube coiling. It was suspected that Leia had Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula (TOF), a condition where the oesophagus and stomach are not properly connected.
Leia needed immediate specialist care and was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, undergoing multiple operations to stretch her oesophagus and reconnect it to her stomach. Many miles from their family home in Dinnington, Ellie-Jae and Luke were supported with a place to stay at The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’, Magnolia House, located just minutes from the hospital. Ellie-Jae said:
“We were in complete shock. We couldn’t comprehend what was happening or what our newborn daughter was going through. We spent that first night on camp beds at the hospital, but we were panicking about how we were going to stay with our daughter. Magnolia House made such a massive difference to us. We had somewhere private to process everything together and get a good night’s sleep while only being minutes away from the hospital.
“Halfway through Leia’s treatment she was stable enough that we could return home. While we were apprehensive, we were very pleased to the leave the hospital. A few days later however, Leia started struggling with her breathing again, which was followed by an episode where she stopped breathing completely. Luke had to perform CPR on Leia for a minute and 40 seconds before he was able to bring her back. It was the most terrifying thing we have ever experienced.
“We were rushed back to hospital where Leia was diagnosed with covid, rhinovirus and chicken pox, a combination that had a devastating impact on her health. She was given oxygen and remained in hospital for the rest of her treatment, and we were once again supported by Magnolia House.
“After 11 weeks in hospital, Leia was final discharged home and six months later, she is our special bundle of joy. It’s been a roller coaster year, definitely the hardest we’ve been through, so we’re really excited for Leia’s first Christmas! We normally celebrate Christmas big in the Bingham household, but we’ll be going even bigger this year. When Leia was in hospital there were times when we didn’t know if our baby girl would make it home. Now that she’s happy and healthy we’ll be going to plenty of Christmas markets, getting the decorations up and taking all the kids to see Father Christmas.
“We’ll be spending Christmas at home as a family of five for the first time and I simply cannot wait. We’re incredibly grateful for the amazing support we received from The Sick Children’s Trust who will be supporting more families with a seriously ill child in hospital this Christmas. I can tell you personally that any support you can give this wonderful charity will make the world of difference to the families they support.”
The Sick Children’s Trust does not charge families to stay in any of its ten ‘Homes from Home’, however it does cost the charity £40 a night to support a family, and that is only rising with the cost-of-living crisis. Magnolia House Manager, Ann Wyatt, said:
“We’re so pleased we could support Ellie-Jae and Luke throughout Leia’s time in hospital and it’s wonderful to hear how well she has been doing at home. We hope they all have a magical Christmas together this year.
“All ten of our ‘Homes from Home’ will be supporting families, like Leia’s, while their seriously ill children are in hospital over the festive period. As a charity we rely on the generosity of our supporters to make sure our ‘Homes from Home’ can continue supporting families. Please donate to our Together at Christmas appeal so that no child has to face Christmas alone this year.”