A couple whose son was saved by pioneering medics at St Mary’s Hospital have spoken of anguish they felt watching their baby fight for his life.
Scott and Emma Garlick were rushed from Bedford in the back of an ambulance so that baby Jack could be treated at the specialist children’s facility at St Mary’s.
He spent nearly a fortnight there and was able to have his family by his side thanks to a charity which raises money to help loved ones stay together with patients in hospital.
Now the Garlicks fronting the Wishing Tree Appeal and urging others to give to the good cause.
Jack was born with congenital CMV and developed a life-threatening chest infection just one week after his family brought him home for the first time.
His condition quickly deteriorated and he was urgently moved to the Paddington hospital.
His mum said: “You are just constantly worried that your phone is going to ring and they are going to say he has taken a turn for the worse. Any machine that bleeps you think, what does that mean? Is he OK?
“You can never describe to someone how that feels, watching your baby fight for his life.
"You can’t do anything for them. All you want to do is look after them, but you can’t. You are helpless.”
After five days in intensive care, Jack’s condition stabilised and he was moved back onto the ward. Six days after that he was discharged and allowed to return home.
However, during their stay at St Mary’s the family was hit by spiralling costs that came with simply being by Jack’s side during his time in hospital.
The Garlicks received money raised from the Imperial Health Charity’s hardship fund which they used to cover accommodation costs, travel, food and other everyday expenses that many families face when their loved one needs specialist care away from home.
“I was walking around in my pyjamas,” said Emma. “We had travelled down in the ambulance at 5am on a Monday morning, so we had absolutely nothing when we arrived at St Mary’s. We literally just jumped in the ambulance and went.
“We had no thoughts about where we were going to stay or how we were going to get around. We just thought, we have got to be with him because he is seriously poorly.”
The couple were given a hotel room close to the hospital for five days while Jack was in intensive care, but they spent another five days sleeping by his side in a single bed on the ward.
Throughout Jack’s hospital stay, Scott and Emma had no access to cooking facilities and quickly racked up hundreds of pounds simply to feed and clothe themselves.
Scott added: “We were having fast food or anything we could find that was cheap. All our money was gone literally in a couple of days.
'It was like going on holiday and losing your suitcase'
“There were little things you don’t think of, like toiletries, underwear and nappies for Jack. We just had to go out and buy everything.
“It was like going on holiday and losing your suitcase. In the first couple of days it was easily £500.
“It all just added up and we looked at the bank balance and thought, ‘oh my God, we have got nothing’.”
Last year Imperial Health Charity’s hardship fund awarded £74,000 to help dozens of families like the Garlicks cover their living costs while staying in hospital at Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and the Western Eye.
Emma said: “At the time we were emotional wrecks. We were obviously worried about Jack but we were also panicking because we had no money.
“It is the last thing you want to be worrying about when your child is so poorly.
“We are just so grateful to St Mary’s and to Imperial Health Charity for everything they did for us. They had our child’s life in their hands and if they had made a wrong call our story could have had a very different outcome.
“If it was not for them we might not have him here with us today. We cannot thank them enough.”
He still struggles with cysts in his brain and the family make regular visits to paediatric specialists in London, but Jack is making good progress on his road to recovery.
Imperial Health Charity’s Wishing Tree Appeal runs until January 2018.
To donate towards the appeal, visit www.imperialcharity.org.uk, call 020 3640 7766 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Imperial Health has also helped these amazing youngsters...
The Simpson family travelled from Newtownards, near Belfast in Northern Ireland, so that Tom, who turned 18 on Thursday (December 21) could receive life-saving treatment for a rare form of anaemia.
Two years ago doctors performed a bone marrow transplant after finding an unrelated donor but a series of complications caused the procedure to fail – leaving Tom fighting for his life in intensive care.
Tom was put on a ventilator to aid his breathing but experts feared he would not survive. Miraculously, however, a second transplant proved successful and over several months he was able to recover.
“The hospital staff said it was unlikely that Tom would survive the process,” said his father Paul.
The complexity of the procedure and the care that Tom required after the transplant meant the family were living in London for over a year before they could return home.
During this time they received emergency financial support from Imperial Health Charity to help cover living costs so that Paul and his wife Linda could be with Tom throughout his treatment.
The money was used to help the Simpsons pay rent on a flat close to the hospital and to buy food and clothes during their stay.
Paul added: “At a time when your whole world is caving in and you are 100% focused on your child, the charity’s support took the financial pressure and worry away. It removed another layer of stress on top of what we were already dealing with.
“The fact that it was all taken care of and enabled us not to have the money worries that other families have during the process was a massive boost.”
Doctors at St Mary’s Hospital were forced to take drastic action to save Kye Vincent after he was diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia.
He had two legs and a hand amputated after developing meningococcal septicaemia.
Kye’s mother Cheryl, stepfather Luke and baby sister Layla were with him every step of the way – but needed financial support from the charity’s hardship fund in order to cover their living costs.
The family had travelled from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire and spent several months living away from home so that Kye could receive the specialist care at St Mary’s.
During this time, the charity provided an emergency grant of £2,000 to help the family cover their travel and accommodation costs, food, clothing and other essential items.
“The money was a real weight off our minds at a time when all we were thinking about was Kye’s health,” said Cheryl.
“Please dig deep and give as much as you can to the Wishing Tree Appeal. Every penny will make a real difference for patients and their families who are in hospital this Christmas.”
Keep up to date with the latest news in west London via the free getwestlondon app.
You can even set it to receive push notifications for all the breaking news in your area