Duchess of Cambridge opens new facility at Great Ormond Street Hospital part-funded by Independent readers

Campaign raised an extraordinary £3.5m towards the construction of medical facility’s new Alligator Ward for children with heart problems

Naomi Ackerman
Wednesday 17 January 2018 16:29
Kate Middleton gives speech as she officially opens the GOSH Mittal Children's Medical Centre

The Duchess of Cambridge today met children at Great Ormond Street Hospital as she opened a life-saving medical facility part-funded by readers of The Independent and the London Evening Standard.

Alligator Ward, a specialist unit for severe heart problems, has been backed by £3.5m raised in the Give to GOSH Christmas campaign in 2015.

Its intensive care facilities will cater for children who need transplants or life-saving surgery and it will take its first patients this spring.

Kate, who is pregnant with her third child, spent time playing with young patients and speaking to their families before the opening. She also thanked staff and heard from clinicians carrying out research.

Proprietor of The Independent Evgeny Lebedev, who joined the Duchess at the event, said: “It was wonderful to be back at Great Ormond Street and not only to see what our appeal has helped pay for, but also to once again meet some of the children who we met during the campaign.

“Back then I can remember them being bedbound or attached to machines. Now they are living normal lives, playing games and going to school, and that is thanks to the work being done here.”

The Independent proprietor, Evgeny Lebedev, with Elliott Livingstone and parents Adrian and Candace

One of the two four-bed bays in the ward was fully funded by cash raised by Give to GOSH. The beds are crucial for children who are critically ill and need round-the-clock monitoring.

There to help mark the opening was four-year-old Elliott Livingstone, who featured in The Independent and Standard’s appeal, and his parents, Candace and Adrian. Before his first birthday he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscles become stretched and thin.

While awaiting a transplant he spent 400 days on a Berlin heart – a device which takes over the organ’s work – the longest time of any child in the UK. He has made a remarkable recovery and started nursery this year.

Ms Livingstone said: “The campaign gave us hope when Elliott was going through the transplant. The donations were so generous and it showed people cared about him and other children in this situation.

“It feels like a nice conclusion to be here today. Elliott helped raise the money – we are going to show him all the articles and the front page as he grows up.”

Mr Livingstone said: “Elliott has been super-excited. He is part of the countdown to the opening. Five children are holding up numbers and he is number three. He’s been practising shouting out the number.”

Money raised by the appeal also supported:

  • 1,000 nights of accommodation for parents to stay near their ill children;
  • A team of play specialists for a year;
  • Support for the hospital’s Louis Dundas Centre, a world leader in palliative care for children;
  • Donations to medical research on rare diseases.

Alligator Ward is a part of the 240-bed Mittal Children’s Medical Centre, which also includes the Premier Inn Clinical Building. The extra space will allow GOSH, which currently takes in up to 618 young people and their families each day, to care for more children.

Chief executive Dr Peter Steer said: “We are honoured to welcome the Duchess to officially open the Mittal Children’s Medical Centre and Premier Inn Clinical Building. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to readers who gave so generously.

“Your donations have helped fund a new specialist cardiac unit. It will also help us to develop innovative treatments and devices to save more lives.” GOSH chairman Sir Michael Rake added: “I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such a momentous occasion.”

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