The generosity of Independent readers will allow Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to create a specialist unit to care for children suffering from heart failure.
A new high-dependency unit (HDU) will be funded by donations made during our Give to GOSH appeal. It will be based in a new 14-bed heart unit, also supported by the appeal, and care for children suffering from heart failure when they are at their most fragile and need constant care.
The unit, due to be completed in 2017, will help patients like two-year-old Elliott Livingstone, who The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal has been following while he waits for a new heart.
Elliott was first diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at two weeks old, but it was in February 2015 that he was rushed to GOSH with heart failure. The following month he was fitted with an external artificial heart, called a Berlin heart, and has remained in hospital ever since.
Professor Andrew Taylor, director for cardiorespiratory services at GOSH, said: “Elliott is a perfect example of how important this new specialist unit is. This March marks a year since he went on to his Berlin heart, and with children like him waiting for hearts for longer, the new unit is vital to provide specialist care, pioneering research and support for patients and parents alike.”
New cardiac unit: How your donations have helped
- Cardiac bedrooms The majority of patients will be accommodated in one of the 10 single, en-suite bedrooms. Each patient will have space for a parent to sleep by their bedside.
- Child play and dining area This rest area will provide a space where patients and their parents can play, socialise and have meals away from their bedrooms.
- Treatment rooms The unit will include a treatment room where medical treatments are administered, ensuring the child’s bedside is a “safe place”.
- Staff room A training and rest area where clinical staff can undergo training, discuss patient care or relax in close proximity to the ward.
- High-dependency unit Funded by Independent readers’ donations, this four-bed unit within the new heart unit will treat the sickest children who need one-to-one nursing care and constant monitoring.
The four-bed HDU, which will care for patients who would otherwise need to be admitted to intensive care, will provide a space for one-to-one nursing support and constant monitoring, while also allowing the space for doctors to carry out emergency medical procedures as quickly as possible, without needing to move critically ill patients.
The new HDU will offer a dedicated area for the sickest children, allowing greater privacy for patients and their families, as well as more space for vital medical equipment. There will be recliner chairs to allow parents to remain by their child’s bedside.
The level of donations to enable The Independent to fund the HDU comes after our campaign smashed through the £3m barrier earlier this week, breaking all previous records for the Independent’s seasonal appeals.
Hitting the £3m milestone means that the entire £1.5m in match-funding provided by the Treasury has been used. A new funder, the Hunter Foundation, has now provided a further £100,000 in match-funding to help boost donations during the appeal’s final stretch.
Meet the patients and doctors of GOSH
Meet the patients and doctors of GOSH
1/9 Elliott Livingstone
Two-year-old Elliott is a “cheeky” little boy who has a Thomas the Tank Engine sticker on his Berlin heart machine, which has kept him alive since his own heart failed eight months ago. Elliott has two tubes pumping blood around his tiny body. It keeps him alive but the machine has left him confined to the wards of Great Ormond Street Hospital until a new heart is found
2/9 Melissa Strickland
As the ward sister on Koala Ward, Melissa Strickland leads a nursing team with the challenging job of looking after children with craniofacial and neurological conditions. “You have to have all the skills and knowledge to do this job but personally for me you cannot do it unless you have passion but also compassion,” she said. “You don’t get used to the sad side of things but you do learn to manage it.”
3/9 Amy Willis
Amy Willis carries a discreet black medical bag everywhere she goes. It contains the cutting-edge HeartWare device that is keeping her alive. A smaller, more advanced version of the Berlin artificial heart, it was fitted in April after she was emergency airlifted to GOSH from Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool. The device means that 14-year-old Amy can be home in Flintshire this Christmas while remaining on the heart transplant waiting list. She is doing well but 15 per cent of patients with a HeartWare device or Berlin heart die while waiting for a new heart, so money raised by the appeal will also go to help researchers identify ways to keep children alive while they await transplant
4/9 Myra Bluebond-Langner
Professor Myra Bluebond-Langner represents the vital work of the Louis Dundas Centre for Children’s Palliative Care, GOSH’s world-class centre dedicated to research and care for children with life-limiting illnesses. The LDC is named in honour of Louis Dundas, a four-year-old boy who died in “unspeakable pain” after suffering a brain tumour in April 2008. Its aim is to ensure that no child suffers unnecessarily in their final days. Money raised from The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal will go to fund the team’s work to manage pain, and also fund vital research into palliative care in children across the whole of the UK. Professor Bluebond-Langner, who heads the research, said: “Paediatric palliative care is a relatively new field where practice has outstripped research. We look to change that.”
5/9 Finella Craig
Together with with Professor Myra Bluebond-Langner, Dr Finella Craig represents the vital work of the Louis Dundas Centre for Children’s Palliative Care, GOSH’s world-class centre dedicated to research and care for children with life-limiting illnesses. The LDC is named in honour of Louis Dundas, a four-year-old boy who died in “unspeakable pain” after suffering a brain tumour in April 2008. Its aim is to ensure that no child suffers unnecessarily in their final days. “One of the worst experiences for a family is to witness their child in pain and discomfort, and for them to feel totally powerless to do anything about it,” said Dr Craig, a consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at GOSH since 2002. Money raised from The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal will go to fund the team’s work to manage pain, and also fund vital research into palliative care in children across the whole of the UK.
6/9 Rowan Pethard
Like most little boys, Rowan Pethard loves playing football. At the start of 2015 the seven-year-old Spurs fan baffled his doctors in Hemel Hempstead with a string of coughs, colds, tummy bugs, aches, pains and rashes. It wasn’t until quite late on that doctors discovered he had leukaemia. He spent two days in intensive care while he had emergency chemo. He has two years of follow-up treatment ahead. “He’s amazing, a little superhero,” his mum said. “It makes it easier for his father and I and his brother to cope.”
7/9 Martin Elliott
Paediatric heart and lung surgeon Martin Elliott, 64, is one of the longest serving doctors at GOSH, leading groundbreaking research and treating thousands of patients over the past 30 years. His work has bridged the gap between surgery and research with skills ranging from heart-bypass surgery to correcting congenital lung disorders.
8/9 Ralph Frost
For Ralph the hardest thing about having to live at GOSH while he waits for a new kidney isn’t missing his toys. He has plenty of those and can terrorise the nurses by pushing his little red motorbike down the corridors of Eagle Ward. The hardest thing for the six-year-old is battling not to cry out during his nightly dialysis sessions. “It really hurts,” he said. “But the other kids are sleeping and I don’t want to wake them up.” Ralph suffers from nephrotic syndrome and is currently waiting for a kidney from his father, Nick. He’s called the kidney “Chase” and his parents, who have been trained to operate his dialysis machine, hope to be home by Christmas
9/9 Lynsey Steele
The strongest praise for Lynsey Steele, 33, comes from the parents of the children she helps. “The children here wouldn’t get by without Lynsey,” said Ralph’s mother Amie Frost. “If she wasn’t here then we’d have cracked up.” Lynsey’s role, which is funded by the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and will be supported by The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal, is to help children play and relax, but also to have the difficult conversations explaining their treatment
Donations from The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal will help fund the 14-bed unit, as well as funding the HDU within it. Both will care for patients while they wait for transplant, as well as providing a critical mass of patients to allow researchers to explore the development of new hormone treatments and devices with the aim of ultimately preventing the need for transplant.
GOSH is already the largest centre in the UK for children with heart problems and last year its surgeons carried out 20 heart transplants. However, the number of children waiting for a transplant has soared from around five children a year in 2002 to around 30 who are currently waiting. The new heart unit will allow the medical team at GOSH to provide more advanced care as young patients await the life-saving procedure. Sadly, nearly 25 per cent of young patients die within six months of going on the heart transplant list.
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