My Race for the Kids – Mela’s story

Paula’s eight-year-old daughter, Mela, was born with Apert syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the development of bones in the skull, face, hands and feet.

Here, Paula tells us about coming to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for the first time and why, every year, she and her family take part in RBC Race for the Kids

"From the day Mela arrived at GOSH, we knew our beautiful daughter was in good care. The staff were incredible since day one," says Paula. 

Over the past eight years, Mela has had over 20 surgeries. Just in the last 12 months, she’s had grommets – small tubes – put in her eardrums to stop them from filling with fluid and affecting her hearing (known as glue ear), 11 teeth removed, and her feet remodeled to ease the pain from walking. 

She’ll continue having surgery as she grows, to make sure she’s as comfortable as possible. 

"Every time she’s had to have a procedure, it’s been very intense and emotional for our family. 

“It’s never easy watching her fall asleep under general anaesthetic, but I can’t fault the care we’ve received at GOSH. We’ve been in very good hands all round. Her doctors know what she likes and what makes her feel more comfortable,” Paula explains. 

A cheeky character 

Because the severity of Apert syndrome is so variable, Mela is closely monitored by GOSH and has regular appointments. 

She always looks forward to these appointments – for her, it’s a day out with her parents and she also gets to play and go to the hospital school. 

“She gets lots of love and attention from the staff when she’s in. They all know her from when she was a baby and are always joking around with her. 

“Mela's quite the cheeky character. She has the best jokes, and everyone loves being around her because she’s so generous," Paula adds. 

Taking part in RBC Race for the Kids 

Paula and her family take part in RBC Race for the Kids every year. 

“With Mela under the care of so many specialists at GOSH, we want to do what we can to give back to the hospital," she explains. 

“I want Mela – and her two little sisters Esmee and Amelie – to know who’s helped her though her journey. For us, it’s about being grateful for Mela, that she’s here. We want our friends and family to know why GOSH is so special to us and to raise awareness of the hospital. It’s the least we can do.” 

Mela, Paula and family

A special event 

Every year, Paula watches the girls do the stretch of the race on their scooters and says it’s heart-warming to see how much they’ve grown. 

“...It means so much that our friends and family walk with us, with Mela," she says. 

“We all warm up together at the beginning and then make a day out of it by having a picnic at the end. 

“And the girls love the whole event, not just the walk. One of their favourite things is that they get t-shirts with their names on the front. Their faces light up when they hear someone in the crowds cheering them on. 

“They always look forward to the bouncy castle and enjoy the entertainment at the finish line – whether it’s a juggler or the chance to play with bean bags. 

“There’s something new and exciting every year, but no matter what the day brings, us five will always be there walking for GOSH.” 

Find out more about RBC Race for the Kids 2018.