Christmas was spent in hospital but at least we were together

Theo was born on Christmas Eve and incredibly ill over the following days. The holiday was spent in Sheffield Children's Hospital, but Theo was never separated from his parents

Last Christmas Eve, Michelle and I had just become brand new parents to our baby boy Theo and we were overwhelmed with happiness that he had entered the world safely and weighing a healthy 7lb.  We had planned to bring him home and celebrate our first Christmas as a family, but unfortunately we couldn’t go home until after New Year.

By 28 December Theo had become quite poorly. His stomach was swollen, he was uncomfortable and very full.  He was really struggling and we were worried. The doctors were concerned too, so Theo had a scan on his stomach after which we were told that we would have to be transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

As we were ushered into an ambulance to take us to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, we didn’t know what treatment Theo was going to need or how long we would be there. In any case, we had not imagined that we would have to travel to another hospital an hour away from our home for Theo to get the care that he needed.

We suspected that Theo might have Hirschsprung’s disease, which is a rare condition that makes it difficult – or sometimes impossible – to go to the toilet naturally. It only affects 1 in 5,000 babies, but because Michelle, his mum, has the condition Theo’s chances were dramatically increased to 1 in 10.

“If you’re in hospital over Christmas and don’t have charities like this helping you, you really are on your own. And hospital can feel like a lonely place at the best of times.”

We had only been at the hospital an hour before someone from The Sick Children’s Trust approached us to tell us that a room was available in Treetop House, which is a  ‘Home from Home’ run by the charity. We hadn’t thought about where we were going to stay and Treetop House was only a few minutes’ walk from Theo’s bedside. After being shown around the house, which was all decorated for Christmas, we were blown away. It was a huge weight off our minds that we would be in a comfortable place, free of charge, and close to our baby boy.

Even though our Christmas was spent with Theo in hospital, we were, and still are, very thankful that we were able to spend it together. This is due to the kind and thoughtful people who donate to The Sick Children’ Trust and keep it up and running – it costs £30 a night to give a family like ours a place to stay in one of the charity’s ‘Homes from Home’.

Without The Sick Children’s Trust we wouldn’t have really had a Christmas. The ‘Home from Home’ gave us some normality – our families could come to visit us and, although it was a stressful time, being together really helped us. If you’re in hospital over Christmas and don’t have charities like this helping you, you really are on your own. And hospital can feel like a lonely place at the best of times.

The doctors confirmed that Theo has Hirschsprung’s disease and he remained in hospital for a week, where we learnt how care for his condition until he was strong enough to operate on. A few months later, Theo had an operation to remove part of his bowel and is now doing incredibly well – he’s a healthy weight and although his condition is lifelong, it is manageable.

We are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in our home in Doncaster this year, but we’re encouraging people to think about the poorly babies who, like Theo, might not make it home for Christmas as planned and who need their families beside them. The Sick Children’s Trust made a huge difference to our Christmas last year by keeping us together as a family, as I’m sure they will be for many other families this year.

Scott Hunt, Theo’s dad


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