The Sick Children's Trust Lifeline


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The Sick Children's Trust

Michael Crawford appeals on behalf of The Sick Children's Trust, a charity that provides vital support for families when their children are seriously ill in hospital.


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Having a seriously ill child

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is probably one of the biggest worries

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you can ever have as a parent.

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She deteriorated very quickly. She nearly died.

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You don't know what this life is

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until you've been through it yourself.

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Every day is a blessing, what we've got with her.

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So many tiny babies fighting for their life,

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and then Flynn joined them in his fight for his life.

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Sometimes, very sick children

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have to be transferred to specialist hospitals,

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which are often hundreds of miles from where they live.

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And at this difficult time, members of the family end up sleeping

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in the hospital or running up hotel bills

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which they simply cannot afford.

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This is why the charity The Sick Children's Trust

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supports families during this traumatic period.

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Zariah was diagnosed with a heart defect

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when she was just six months old.

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Started back in Glasgow.

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She was going to a routine appointment.

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She was breathing a bit heavily.

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And they noticed that her heart was very dilated,

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so they diagnosed her with a heart condition,

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and her outcome is a heart transplant.

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When you were travelling back and forwards from home in Glasgow

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to the hospital, how long did that take?

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Hour and a half on public transport.

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And taxis was too much money,

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costs over 30-odd pound to go from my house to the hospital.

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And to do that twice a day, every day,

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I couldn't afford it, I really couldn't.

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And how did you manage for the first month or so

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when you had Zariah in the hospital up there?

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A lot of the nights, I was sleeping in the hospital,

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but some nights, they said that I wasn't able to,

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because I was just stopping in the waiting room.

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And the one night I did go home, the next morning,

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that was when she, um...nearly died.

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I don't talk about all of this, you know?

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It's hard sometimes going through everything.

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Of course it is. Of course it is.

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When I was nine years old,

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I had my tonsils taken out in hospital.

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My mother got the time wrong when she was supposed to collect me,

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so I was left there all alone.

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I still remember that fear,

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worrying that she was never going to come back for me.

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I don't want any seriously ill child

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to ever go through fear like that.

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Which is why, for the last 30 years,

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I have supported The Sick Children's Trust.

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They offer essential, free accommodation

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as well as emotional and practical support

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to families with very sick children,

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located at specialist paediatric hospitals.

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Providing a place to stay means families can focus

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on getting their child better

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and not stress about how to fund their hospital stay.

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The Sick Children's Trust has ten home-from-homes around the country.

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These children can be ill for quite a long time.

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The family basically have to sort of move their life here.

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Each of our home-from-homes is located very near to the hospital.

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They can also rest, peacefully,

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knowing that if there are any problems with the child,

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the nurses can get in touch with them straightaway.

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Zara and Nathan moved into Scott House in Newcastle

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in April last year when their daughter, Darcy,

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was treated for a serious heart condition.

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Has it helped that you...?

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Oh, it's phenomenal being here.

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At least this is on the doorstep,

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whereas, obviously, being back in Middlesbrough,

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-we've got to travel a good hour each time.

-We can be here with her

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if something went wrong, we could be straight over.

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Look at her, wide awake!

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MICHAEL GASPS Oh!

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We often have parents who can stay in the house

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while they're training on the ward to look after their sick child,

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but also the children themselves can come over,

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and so the parents can have a bit of a trial run

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of looking after that child before they go home.

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£30 will support a family for one night in a home-from-home

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near to their sick child.

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And that isn't just parents.

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Brothers, sisters and grandparents, too.

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Which gives such comfort to everyone.

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My brother Flynn was born premature.

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He's 19 months old.

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He needs oxygen.

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Helen was 25 weeks pregnant when she went into labour,

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and was transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

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I was worried about where I was going to stay after I'd delivered,

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and I was worried about being so far away from home.

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After two weeks in hospital, Helen gave birth to a baby boy.

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Flynn was diagnosed in the first 24 hours

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with something called chronic lung disease.

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And that affects his lungs.

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They are just not mature enough to take oxygen out of the air.

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Helen was given a room at Chestnut House, which is a home-from-home

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that is situated inside the hospital.

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To live at home and be an hour away,

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when you've got to produce milk, express it, give it into them

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on top of the stress of going backwards and forwards,

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it is just not feasible. We would have got into a lot of debt

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if I'd had to go in a hotel.

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Because you are just not worrying about money, you're worrying about

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whether your child is going to get through the next day.

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And Flynn's brother was also able to stay with him.

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My son, who was seven at the time,

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he came to visit at weekends.

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It meant that I could see him,

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see how he was getting on,

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In total, was away from home for six months.

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It was such a benefit, for him,

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and for him to meet his brother, as well.

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When I first saw him,

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when I touched his hand,

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it felt so soft.

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And it was very small.

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Staff at the home-from-homes are the focal point for families

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returning back from the hospital.

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They offer support when families might still be digesting

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what is happening to their child.

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This emotional support can be invaluable.

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Abi, she was a real support to us

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when Dan couldn't be with us.

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I could go and have a cup of tea and a chat with her

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and the other parents within the house.

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Made some long-life friends

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and that made all the difference.

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Last year, the charity helped around 4,000 families.

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And all of the homes-from-home are run

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entirely on voluntary donations, with no government money.

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How is Zariah doing now, Leanda?

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She has had a lot of up and downs, but, right now, she is stable.

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So, that's all I can ask for right now.

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The last thing you want, as a parent,

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is to worry about money, trying to find somewhere

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to put your head down close to your child when they're so sick.

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And the home-from-home gives them that opportunity

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to be right next to them.

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Put yourself in their shoes for a moment, and imagine the pain

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of being separated from your critically ill child,

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and just think what a help being in a home-from-home would be to you.

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Having a child who is sick is such an enormous worry

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to parents, and for the whole family.

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But, with your generosity,

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it will be one less thing for them to worry about.

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So, please, do give what you can.

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To give by phone, call...

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Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

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Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole £10 goes to The Sick Children's Trust.

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For full terms and conditions, or to make a donation online,

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visit the Lifeline website.

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Or if you'd would like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable to The Sick Children's Trust,

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and send it to...

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..writing "The Sick Children's Trust" on the back of the envelope.

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Thank you.

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Michael Crawford presents a Lifeline appeal on behalf of The Sick Children's Trust, a charity that provides vital support and accommodation for families during the difficult time when their children are seriously ill in hospital.