Hi, this is Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder of Wild in Art and I’m delighted to be reading a story for Gratitude, a public art installation which pays tribute to the ongoing courage and dedication of NHS Staff and all key workers and supports the vital work of NHS Charities Together.
To give you some context, this story is about Craig and Emma Stringfellow who welcomed a new baby to their family during the pandemic, but Harrison was born with a heart defect and needed urgent care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Fortunately, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity was standing by to look after the rest of the family, thanks to funds donated from NHS Charities Together’s Urgent Appeal and two charitable trusts.
‘THANK YOU’ BY CRAIG STRINGFELLOW
Our gorgeous son Harrison was born at the height of the pandemic. He had a rare condition called hypoplastic right heart syndrome, which meant his little heart had not formed the way it should’ve done and couldn’t pump enough blood to his lungs.
My wife, Emma, and I knew from our very first scan we’d be spending lots of time in hospital when he arrived. The scan images had shown some abnormalities, and we were eventually told by doctors our baby boy would be born with multiple congenital heart defects, which he would need open-heart surgery to correct.
To say we were devastated is an understatement. This was our third child and our older kids were born perfectly healthy, so the news came as a complete blow. Having to prepare our young children for what was to come was probably one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do as parents.
Harrison was very poorly, as we expected, and at two-days-old he was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for his life-saving treatment.
Thankfully the children’s hospital had increased its paediatric intensive care capacity to take on even more of the region’s sickest kids, like Harrison. This was done to relieve pressure and support other NHS hospitals across the Midlands, like ours in Leicestershire, who were all struggling with the extreme challenges and excessive strain being placed on them as a result of COVID-19.
But, grateful as we were that he was getting the expert help he needed, for us it meant travelling over 50 miles, each way, every day, to be with Harrison. We were in turmoil about the prospect of being apart from him – even for a second. The hospital provided emergency accommodation while he had his first surgery, but only for one of us.
Emma stayed with our older children; it was excruciating for her to be away from Harrison.
So when we were offered longer-term accommodation at a local apartment – paid for by emergency funds, donated and raised through Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s Covid-19 Appeal – it was such a relief to be able to be together, and nearby. Being together might seem like a little thing, but it was the biggest reassurance for us.
At 12-days-old, Harrison had his second heart surgery. The amazing doctors provided around-the-clock care and, slowly but surely, we started to see positive improvements; Harrison went from strength to strength.
They say when your child is ill, your whole world stops. Trust me: it does. But thankfully, we had Birmingham Children’s Hospital to keep it turning for us. For that, we’ll be forever grateful.
Thank you for listening to this story. For more stories and information on Gratitude, please visit: www.thisisgratitude.co.uk