A Linslade mum has told of her family’s frightening ordeal when her four-year-old daughter ended up in intensive care with an “incredibly rare” case of pneumonia.
Despite being fit and healthy, Hannah Gibson’s illness was so acute that it would not respond to treatment.
Initially, Hannah was being treated at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, but as the day went on, the youngster’s condition quickly went downhill.
Mum Caroline, of Soulbury Road, recalled: “Her case of pneumonia was severe and wasn’t responding to the medication, which we were told is incredibly rare.
“Three days later, Hannah needed transferring to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
“Hannah was immediately put into the PICU – the Intensive Care unit – at GOSH. It was an extremely frantic and worrying time for us. Our little girl was just so poorly.”
It was an extremely frantic and worrying time for us. Our little girl was just so poorly.
With Great Ormond Street Hospital a two-hour drive away from home, the Gibsons were left to wonder how they would cope with the travelling and planning care for their son, Elliot, aged nine.
Caroline said: “We had to be away from our little boy so that we could be by her side.
“We weren’t sure what would happen. Where would we stay? What would we do for food? How long would Hannah be in for? So many questions raced through my head, it was overwhelming.
“Fortunately, we found out about The Sick Children’s Trust’s Home from Home’s scheme through the patient advice and liaison services and were offered a room at Rainbow House, just around the corner from GOSH.
“Staying in the house was a massive relief to us physically, emotionally and financially. We could just concentrate on being there for Hannah and not worry about the practicalities.
“The house was fantastic. It was modern, clean and it gave us somewhere to rest our heads. It also helped reassure our family back home as our son was staying with his grandparents, so it gave them peace of mind knowing that we could get some proper rest and if needed, he could always visit.
“We also found it helpful having other parents staying in the house. We talked quite a bit to a couple whose daughter was also in PICU with a similar condition to Hannah’s.
“It was helpful to chat in the kitchen to someone who wasn’t as emotionally close to the situation but completely understood it.
“What’s more, it was comforting to know that the ward had a direct line to our room especially at night – a line that would never be engaged. Luckily, it wasn’t used in our case.
“Hannah was unconscious for the majority of her stay in GOSH, but when she finally woke up, we were there, right by her side. Whether that would have been possible without the help of The Sick Children’s Trust, I’m not quite sure, but being within a few feet of her was great for us, and I believe it definitely helped Hannah’s recovery – I think she could sense we were there.”
Hannah is now fit and well after the frightening episode just before Christmas, although she will continue to be monitored by the respiratory team at Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
The Gibsons are now calling on other families to support the charity who kept their family together at their time of crisis.
This May, The Sick Children’s Trust hopes to raise £100,000 through its Big Chocolate Tea Party campaign that encourages supporters to raise at least £28 by hosting a party in their honour.
Caroline said: “We can’t thank The Sick Children’s Trust enough for the support they gave us over that fortnight; it really helped having a private and comfortable space away from the ward.
“That’s why this year we are asking everyone to join us in throwing a Big Chocolate Tea Party to raise £28 for the charity, which will help provide a room for a family in one of their 10 Homes from Home for a night.
> If you would like to get involved, simply visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org/bigchoctea or email firstname.lastname@example.org