On 16 Oct, Children’s Heart Surgery Fund were delighted to participate in #IamABLE – a one-day social media campaign celebrating young people and their achievements using the hashtag #IamABLE, initiated by DM Thomas Foundation for Young People. We were invited to take part as the foundation has chosen to fund a new multi-sensory anaesthetic room as part of the new Hybrid Theatre.

As part of #IamABLE 2018, the foundation also held a special £30,000 giveaway. Charities, schools, clubs and non-profits were invited to apply for a share of £30K to support a new project that would support sick young people. We were over the moon to find out we had been awarded £2,500 towards a ‘Vein Viewer Flex’ – a device which uses infrared to show veins beneath the skin. This helps make the experience of blood tests or cannulas more positive for children with heart conditions and reduce their anxiety.

Jamie-Lee is 12. His mum Elizabeth found out he had a heart murmur when he was only 18-months old. Elizabeth explains what a difference having a Vein Viewer would have made when Jamie-Lee was being treated…

“Jamie was born with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder of the connective tissue, which affects his heart.

Jamie-Lee in hospital

He has needed 6-monthly blood tests until it was time for him to have open-heart surgery to replace his aortic and mitral valves in August 2018, to allow a better blood circulation.

The blood tests were necessary to monitor Jamie-Lee’s level of oxygen in his body. Due to his condition, Jamie-Lee’s veins have always been hard to locate and have required several attempts by nurses.

After a particularly bad experience, Jamie-Lee used to scream as soon as he saw a needle and fight off blood tests. It was very distressing to watch and try to help him.

I wish we could have had a Vein Viewer to distract him and make the tests shorter. I’m sure Jamie-Lee would have been interested in the Infrared and seeing his veins. It would have calmed him down and he wouldn’t have been as nervous about the next test.

Now he is older, thankfully he is much better, but it is good to know that other children and their families will now be able to use the Vein Viewer when having the same procedures.”

This is a massive thank you to the DM Thomas Foundation for Young People who have truly transformed many children and families experiences when visiting the hospital for treatment. And thank you to Jamie-Lee and his mum Elizabeth for sharing their story.