Friday, 30 December 2011
As soon as our son Martin was born in November 1992, we immediately knew that something was wrong. His rapid breathing immediately alerted the attention of doctors and Martin was instantly rushed to Alder Hey hospital where he was diagnosed as having ‘Truncus arteriosus’, a rare congenital heart disease. The joy of having our first son quickly turned to terror. Knowing something was wrong made us both feel incredibly vulnerable and helpless. Fortunately after an incredibly shaky start with many scares, including a life-saving heart operation, Martin’s condition improved and we were able to take him home. However we knew that our son would need to have an operation sometime in the future to replace his pulmonary homograph conduit.
Ten years later in 2002, the time came for Martin’s second operation and whilst we had known this was inevitable, the worry and panic remained painfully fresh. Our first concern was how to get to Great Ormond Street Hospital from our home in Hampshire and finding accommodation that would allow us to be close to the ward throughout Martin’s operation. So when we discovered The Sick Children’s Trust, it felt as though a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders. The charity provided us with ‘Home from Home’ accommodation in their Rainbow House that is extremely close to Great Ormond Street.
The staff at Rainbow House were extremely welcoming, especially Sandra the house manager who immediately made us feel more relaxed at this stressful time. Just knowing that we had somewhere close to Martin’s ward where we could eat, wash and unwind was hugely comforting. It was also great for our younger daughter Chloe, who seemed much less worried after we moved into Rainbow House. We remained at this ‘Home from Home’ throughout our son’s recovery and were very grateful for the significant help provided to us by The Sick Children’s Trust.
In August 2010 Martin required a third operation in which a mechanical value would be placed into his heart. We were delighted to be told that Rainbow House had a place available for us once again, so after two expensive nights in a hotel we were back with Sandra in the comfortable and calming environment we had experienced sever years before. Meeting other families in similar situations helped to remove some worries and we all shared our experiences. In Rainbow House we met a couple, Damian and Tina Slack with a daughter, Grace, who was also unwell and we both supported each other through the difficult times. Without the Sick Children’s Trust such support wouldn’t have been there and I feel that we would have felt much more isolated and afraid.
Martin is now doing much better and we are thrilled to have our son in such good spirits, we also are now very good friends with Damian and Tina. We cannot thank The Sick Children’s Trust enough for giving us this vital and continuous support throughout Martin’s operations.