“Every day at The Sick Children’s Trust we meet families who are facing the agonising wait for the news that an organ has become available for their child. Until more awareness is raised around organ donation for children, The Sick Children’s Trust promises to be there for these families, giving them a comfortable place to stay just minutes away from their child’s hospital bedside.” Jane Featherstone, Chief Executive of The Sick Children’s Trust
Over the last three years, we have worked alongside The Mirror newspaper on its Change the Law for Life, a campaign to change the laws regarding organ donation. It started with a story. Max Johnson’s story. Max’s family had been staying with us for some months while they waited for a donor heart to become available. As they waited, his parents, Emma and Paul, decided to share their experience with us to help raise awareness of our ‘Homes from Home’. Not only did Max’s story touch our hearts, it touched the hearts of the nation.
Max soon became the ‘poster boy’ for The Mirror’s campaign, asking the Prime Minister to give him and others alike a chance to live by changing the law to presumed consent. The paper followed his agonising wait, how he felt and how his parents were managing with help from The Sick Children’s Trust by giving them a place to stay at Scott House.
Fortunately, Max received a donor heart. The moment he was given the gift of life was filmed and broadcasted to help build awareness of how life-changing saying ‘yes’ to organ donation could be. Max grew stronger. His face became recognised across the nation as he was united with his donor, Keira’s, family. As the news came in that the law was changing – it was given the name of Max’s Law, but Max asked for it to be renamed to Max and Keira’s Law.
The Sick Children’s Trust plays a vital role in supporting families with children waiting for an organ transplant by giving them a warm and comfortable place to stay in our free ‘Homes from Home’, located just a few minutes’ walk from children’s hospital wards. Max’s family are just one of hundreds. Even now, during these unprecedented times, we keeping our doors open to families with critically ill children in hospital, ensuring that they can be together.
One family that has received support on more than one occasion from us is Frankie’s, who has had both a heart and kidney transplant. His mum, Sophie, said:
“Throughout Frankie’s journey, The Sick Children’s Trust has supported me with a place to stay. I remember walking in the front door of Scott House, located at Freeman Hospital, and thinking it was amazing. I had been sleeping in a plastic chair up until this point at the side of Frankie’s bed. Andrew, who was the House Manager then, showed me around the rooms and it was amazing. More recently I stayed at Crawford House at Newcastle’s RVI. It was a great comfort to see Andrew was managing the house as he’d been on our journey with us. It was a massive help to know that there was someone who knew us and was there to lend a hand. Crawford House, just like Scott House, was so close to the hospital and it looked and felt like Scott House, so we felt we were ‘Home from Home’ again.”
Five of our ten ‘Homes from Home’ are linked to hospitals that carry our transplants, so we’re supporting families like Frankie’s every day. Despite this new change to the law, this is not applicable to under 18s meaning children like Frankie will still face the same agonising wait for a donor organ as before. Support for their families from The Sick Children’s Trust will be just as important as ever as often these children undergo treatment at hospitals far from home.
As a charity we receive no government funding and now more than ever we need your support as we face up to a 30% loss of income during these unprecedented times. We will continue to be there for families, like Frankie’s, but we cannot do this alone. We need your support.
To donate to The Sick Children’s Trust, click here.