Yorkshire Evening Post 
Saturday 11 April 2020
By Joanna Wardill

Families of some of the region’s poorliest children have spoken of their agony at having to split themselves in two to follow strict isolation rules on high-risk hospital wards in Leeds.

Rules brought in to combat the spread of COVID-19 means only one parent or carer can currently stay with a child receiving care in Leeds hospitals’ paediatric and neonatal departments.

Parents of children on the congenital heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary have told the Yorkshire Evening Post of their devastation at having to separate and cope with the fact that one must stay away for the entire time their child is receiving critical care.

The move comes as visiting times to the rest of Leeds Teaching Hospitals remain suspended while teams across the hospitals work to protect patients, communities and staff during the coronavirus crisis.

Thomas Sawford, 22, with daughter Kaidee, three Copyright: other

Ellis Taylor and Thomas Sawford’s daughter Kaidee, three, is currently recovering from open heart surgery at the congenital unit where she was admitted on March 31 to correct a leaking valve.

Ellis, 22, said:

We were both going to look after her and see if we were allowed to take turns but the rules have obviously changed and so it’s one parent stays the whole time from start to finish. We’ve been having to do everything with video message and calls. Everyone obviously wants to just come and give her a hug.”

Speaking from his home in Rotherham, dad Thomas, 22, said:

Having gone from seeing her every single day to not being able to see her at all is just really affecting me. The operation’s been put off and put off – I think its is the sixth attempt – so I’m delighted that she’s finally had it but it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I can’t be there for her.

 

There’s been a lot of tears, no sleep. It’s just horrendous. I don’t have words to describe the feeling. On the one hand I’m delighted that she’s had the operation but on the other I’m devastated I can’t see her. I’ve never had two such contrasting emotions at the same time.

Another mum, Sinead, 36, gave birth to daughter Hope four weeks ago but her husband has not been able to visit Hope for nearly two weeks.

Little Hope was born with hypoplastic right heart syndrome – where the right side of her heart is underdeveloped – and has already had two procedures including open heart surgery at 16 days old.

Hope’s dad has been staying at nearby Eckersley House – the accommodation provided to parents of children being treated on the ward – unable to see his daughter throughout the harrowing time.

Leeds Children’s Hospital at LGI. Picture: Tony Johnson Copyright: jpimedia

Sinead, of Driffield, said:

It’s very hard because you need that support. It’s a terrifying situation as it is, to throw coronavirus on top of that and not have him as my support is very hard.

Both Sinead and, Kaidee’s mum, Ellis have been receiving meals from the hospital while they are isolated with their children but this week they were also given a much-needed pack of snacks and essentials thanks to Leeds-based charity Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

The Fund supports the heart unit and its patients and families and answered a plea to help those stranded on the wards unable to leave for supplies.

Mum Ellis Taylor, with Kaidee, three, and their bag of supplies provided by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund in Leeds. Copyright: other

Sharon Milner, chief executive of CHSF, said:

It’s one thing being stuck in hospital in unfamiliar surroundings but these people are stuck on the hospital wards and can’t get out. It’s just mind-blowing really. It was an opportunity for us to support our families directly and a positive call to action.

Kaidee’s mum Ellis said:

Obviously when you can’t go anywhere, having something delivered to snack on if you’re feeling peckish or feeling genuinely hungry is amazing.

Sinead added:

Especially with us living far away, any extra help, anything that they can get to help us has been greatly appreciated. It’s important, especially as what makes it even harder is you’re kind of isolated on the ward.

The packs – which had tinned food, snacks, toiletries, drinks – were packed by Sharon and Lisa Williams, Senior Community Fundraising Manager at CHSF, adhering to social distancing rules and were quarantined for five days before being given to families on the ward. They were made possible thanks to donations given in response to an urgent appeal issued by CHSF last week.

Sharon spoke out to plead for donations – however big or small – after the coronavirus wiped out a swathe of the charity’s planned funding streams for the year ahead. So far over £2,000 has been donated to the appeal but its target is £50,000.

“We’re pleased with the initial response,” said Sharon, who said she has noticed from the online fundraising page that it’s mainly families who have had children treated on the heart unit who have so far donated.

“They can obviously relate to how people will be feeling. It’s quite moving really. I can’t think them enough.”

To donate to the appeal visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/CHSF-heart-unit-needs-you