For the next seven days we have the most amazing fundraising opportunity thanks to Big Give, who will be match funding all donations made through their platform to support our ‘Homes from Home’.
We’re aiming to raise £35,000 which will fund three rooms in our ‘Homes from Home’ for a year, keeping 874 families with a seriously ill child in hospital together.
The Big Give campaign runs from today until 5 December so please give what you can as every donation will effectively double in value, making an incredible difference to the families we support.
Read about the difference we made to Rae and Kane, who we supported at our Stevenson House ‘Home from Home’ while their son Oliver received care at The Royal London Hospital. If you feel suitably inspired, please donate to our Big Give campaign on the link at the bottom. Thank you.
Baby Oliver. Credit: Rae MacKenzie.
Born in September 2019 at 30 weeks via emergency caesarean section at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, our premature son Oliver had an issue with his oesophagus, with medical staff unable to pass a feeding tube down his food pipe.
Oliver was immediately blue-lighted to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and quickly diagnosed with oesophageal atresia and tracheo-oesophageal fistula (OA/TOF), rare congenital conditions of the oesophagus (food pipe) and trachea (windpipe) where food and liquid cannot pass from the throat to the stomach.
As I was still in hospital recovering from my c-section, I started to panic. I was so worried, desperate to be with my son. Luckily my partner, Kane, went with Oliver to London, not leaving his side. It was upsetting to be so far away from my new-born baby boy when he was so poorly, but I’m so glad Kane was with him.
It was not long before Kane was approached by Imtiaz from The Sick Children’s Trust, a charity that provides parents who have a seriously ill child in hospital with a place to stay. Imtiaz was brilliant, giving us a bedroom at their Stevenson House ‘Home from Home’ just minutes from where Oliver was being treated at the Royal London’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I joined Kane at Stevenson House four long and stressful days later, relieved to be staying in such an amazing place so close to our son.
We spent three months at Stevenson House while Oliver underwent the operations needed to correct the conditions. As he faced so many obstacles and setbacks during that time, it was vital that we were close to him throughout. We would have been absolutely lost without Stevenson House, and not just because utilities such as the kitchen and washing machines made things that little bit easier for us. Living with other families that were going through similar, incredibly difficult situations was also a massive help. We shared stories and supported each other. Along with the Stevenson House staff, they all became like family to us.
Mum Rae with baby Oliver. Credit: Rae MacKenzie.
After 12 traumatic weeks, Oliver was finally ready to be discharged, which meant saying a very emotional goodbye and thank you to everyone at Stevenson House. We were thrilled to finally get our baby boy home, but little did we know what was around the corner.
In December 2019, Oliver suffered a complication which stopped him being able to breathe while feeding, meaning another operation back at The Royal London Hospital. Oliver’s stomach had somehow managed to slip into his chest, and he was suffering from extreme gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), which meant stomach acid was repeatedly flowing back into his food pipe. At the time he was too small and fragile to go through the operation, so was fitted with a nasal tube that bypassed his stomach and delivered nutrients straight to the small intestine until he was big and strong enough for the operation to take place.
Thankfully, The Sick Children’s Trust were there for us once again, and we were put back in our old room at Stevenson House. It was another unexpected situation, and we couldn’t bear the thought of leaving his side. It was such a weight off our minds, meaning we could be with Oliver until he was ready for his operation.
In March 2020, Oliver finally reached the required weight for the operation to take place. Oliver underwent an operation, which wrapped part of his stomach around the connection with his windpipe to try to stop the stomach acid from causing even further damage to his tiny body. He was fitted with a tube, which fed directly into his stomach whilst it attached to his wall lining during his recovery.
Rae, Kane, Oliver and Rori on their emotional return to Stevenson House. Credit: The Sick Children’s Trust.
Oliver was eventually discharged in April 2020 and I am happy to say that almost four years later, he is doing so well. He is such a joy to be around, and loves spending time with his little sister, Rori.
When we were asked to take part in a photoshoot at Stevenson House, both Kane and I felt emotional and anxious about returning. But there was no way we would have said no. It was amazing to be back there with both of our children, with a healthy, happy Oliver playing with all the team. It was so lovely seeing everyone in much happier circumstances, where we were able to properly thank them for everything, they did for us. We were even able to go into our old room, which felt like fate as it was the only one not being used by a family at the time. We managed to let go of all the sadness and make a happy memory in the house.
We wouldn’t have coped as well as we did without Stevenson House and the wonderful support of everyone there. The houses run by Sick Children’s Trust really are homes from home, and we cannot thank them enough. They will forever have a place in our hearts.
Rae & Kane, Oliver’s mum and Dad
Help us support more families like Rae and Kane by double your donation through our Big Give campaign. Donate here:
Credit: The Sick Children’s Trust.