How a new unit will care for children with heart failure at Great Ormond Street Hospital

A new high-dependency unit (HDU) will be funded by donations made during our Give to GOSH appeal

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The Independent Online

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Treatment rooms The unit will include a treatment room where medical treatments are administered, ensuring the child’s bedside is a “safe place”.  
  4. Staff room A training and rest area where clinical staff can undergo training, discuss patient care or relax in close proximity to the ward. 
  5. 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.

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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