Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Alder Hey

I think it is time for me to tell you about Alder Hey Children's Hospital and how wonderful the staff there were to us. As I explained in an earlier post, we spent time on two different wards - the first week on K2 and the next two weeks on the ICU. We came across nurses, doctors, surgeons, physios, secretaries, healthcare assistants, cleaners, anaesthetists, perfusionists and all were brilliant. In fact, I have nomintated them for a Tommy's award and rather than replicating my words, I thought I would copy the letter here:

"I would like to nominate the staff working on the intensive care unit at Alder Hey Childrens Hospital for the Miracle Unit Award.

My darling daughter, Erin, was born on 9.11.11 and transferred to Alder Hey when she was 1 day old. She had Turner Syndrome and was found to have a problem with her heart. On 16.11.11 she underwent heart surgery to fix this. Tragically, she suffered complications following her operation and was cared for in the ICU up until her death on 01.12.11. The staff who work on the ICU were incredibly kind and caring, not only to Erin, but also to myself and my husband.

Erin needed to be placed on an ECMO machine as her heart was very weak following the operation. This machine required attention 24 hours a day from a very dedicated team of staff. They had to monitor the flow of blood through it and take samples at regular intervals to check a number of things. It seemed very complicated and required a lot of attention, but the staff were never too busy to explain to us what they were doing and why it was necessary. We were amazed and extremely grateful for the dedication that they showed and the concentration and enthusiasm that they gave to their job.

Erin is our only child and we only had 22 days with her; we were never able to take her home. The staff on the ICU were so aware and considerate of this. Her medical needs meant that there was not much we were able to do for her ourselves, but they always ensured that when that was something for us to get involved in, we did. Therefore, I was able to assist with Erin's daily care needs and wipe her eyes and mouth and sometimes help change her nappies. They also understood my desire to breastfeed and supported and encouraged me to express milk throughout Erin's life. Being able to do these small things for my daughter was so important to me and I am so grateful that the staff realised this and encouraged me to help them. It demonstrated their empathy and understanding of my needs as a mummy.

Erin had to undergo many painful and unpleasant procedures during her short life, but the care with which these were carried out was plain to see. The staff on the ICU spoke so kindly to Erin and with such warmth when they were performing procedures, that it made leaving her in their care that little bit easier. Leaving my newborn baby was so difficult, but I always felt confident that she was being cared for by an extremely professional and caring group of people.

I can honestly say that we never came across one member of staff on the ICU who did not treat ourselves or our daughter with the upmost care and consideration. They encouraged us to get rest and look after our own needs as well as those of Erin. They also provided us with a room on the unit during the time when Erin was most medically unstable.

I will never be able to demonstrate to the staff on the ICU my full appreciation for the care they gave to little Erin. I am so amazed at the unwavering enthusiasm with which they approached their jobs even towards the end of what were very long shifts. At times they must find the work they do difficult, but they never let this show. They made what has been the most difficult and distressing time of our lives that little bit easier. There were even occasions during this awful time when we laughed and joked with the nursing staff - a true testiment to their humanity and kindness.

Finally, when Erin passed away they treated us with incredible care and compassion, enabling us to hold her as she died and cuddle her afterwards. Their kindness at this awful time will stay with me forever.

I wish more than anything that I could have had my darling Erin at home and in my care for the 22 days that she lived, but this was not possible. As she had to be in the care of others, there are no other team of people that I would have wished her to have been with. I truly think that the staff working on the ICU go above and beyond their job roles on a daily basis and truly deserve this award."

We will forever be grateful to them and will strive to show this appreciation through our fundraising. Therefore, The Alder Hey Imagine Appeal are one of the charities that we hope to support and raise money for through Erin's Gift. I hope that all sick children and their families receive the support that we did.


  1. A beautiful picture of your very precious little girl. Erin will be very proud of what you are doing in her name x

  2. I thought i would post a comment, this story is very similar to what happened to my son however he only lived for 24 hours. The staff in the RVI Newcastle were exactly what you described they are one in a billion people. Its a harsh reality to know and hear stories like this everyday but through stories like this and through the many angel parents on twitter we can all help each other and in turn help others. You are an inspiration to others and you should b very proud,take care and keep the tweets coming, Darren Dundas @Raise4Louis

  3. Anna this is a great blog. It is lovely to read about Erin and also very difficult. I am sad and angry that she isn't here with you physically. But I am also in awe of how utterly lovely she was x

  4. Thank you so much for your kind comments x

  5. My heart goes out to you. I lost my first born son many years ago and we also so nearly lost our grandson 5 yrs ago, he was touch and go for 2 weeks but we were very lucky to keep him.
    Like with you, the staff in the intensive care were amazing in their care and kindness. My daughter and her friends raised money too, to help that unit.
    At times like this you realise how many good people there are in the world and how truly kind and generous most of them are.
    I wish you good fortune in the future, thank you for sharing your story.