My son Ethan was born eight weeks premature at Basildon Hospital on 25 August 2021 by emergency caesarean. He stayed in hospital for four weeks while he gained weight before me and my partner, Kirstie, could finally bring him home to meet his big sister Ariya.
Three and half weeks later however Ethan seemed poorly one morning and wasn’t himself as he was unresponsive and had a very low temperature. We were becoming increasingly worried about his health so we called an ambulance and they made the decision to take him back to Basildon Hospital. When we arrived they told us that Ethan had also been having seizures. We asked if he would be ok, but all they could tell us was that he was in the best hands. That was such a terrifying time for us as we didn’t know what to expect next.
Ethan was struggling with his breathing and needed to have a tube placed down his throat to assist him. He was later diagnosed with a number of respiratory infections and we were told Ethan needed specialist care at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to help him fight them. We then made the hour long trip to London where he was admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
The first night we were offered temporary accommodation within the hospital which was great as we expected to have to sleep in a hospital chair that night. We didn’t want to leave Ethan’s side and we couldn’t travel back and forth from home, but parents are also unable to sleep on the intensive care wards. All we wanted was to stay as close to Ethan as possible. The following day we were told about The Sick Children’s Trust and that we had a place to stay at its ‘Home from Home’ called Rainbow House. We left the hospital and made the five minute walk to Rainbow House where we would stay while Ethan remained on PICU.
We were greeted by the friendly House Manager, Tracy, and had a lovely chat with her as she showed us around the ‘Home from Home’ and where we would be staying. We were amazed at what was provided for us. We had our own room and bathroom, a shared kitchen and facilities to wash and dry our clothes. Tracy and the other house staff were all extremely friendly and I had daily chats with them about how Ethan was doing and the progress he was making. I cannot explain how much Rainbow House meant to me and Kirstie. We were able to stay close to our son during these difficult times and be back by his side at a moment’s notice while also being able to look after ourselves. If we couldn’t have stayed at Rainbow House we would have both needed to travel to and from our home in Thurrock, Essex. That would have worked out to be around £26 per day and we would have been worried sick the whole time we were away in case we needed to get to the hospital quickly. Thanks to The Sick Children’s Trust all that extra worry was taken away and we could just focus on Ethan. Until we stayed at Rainbow House we were unaware of The Sick Children’s Trust and how it supports families. Until you find yourself in that situation it is not a charity you would really come across, but we would like to encourage others to do what they can to help support them so they can continue to be there for other families the same way they supported me and Kirstie.
Day by day Ethan got a bit better, but some days we had a step backwards as he was still struggling to breathe by himself. Eventually he was able to fight off the infections though and started to reduce his dependency on the breathing machines. Ethan stayed on PICU for 16 days and throughout that time we were always just minutes from his side at Rainbow House. He was then moved to another ward so they could observe his oxygen levels and we left Rainbow House so that another family could benefit from staying at the ‘Home from Home’.
Since coming home from hospital Ethan has been doing great. He has not required any other check ups and he has been hitting all of his milestones. He is such a happy baby and we are so proud to be his parents. Ethan has now had the opportunity to bond with Ariya and for us all to enjoy time together as a family. We cannot thank The Sick Children’s Trust and Great Ormond Street Hospital enough for their support. You have literally saved our little boy’s life and we are forever in your debt.
Brad Ross, Ethan’s dad.