Christmas Appeal: Henry’s Story

18 Nov 2021, 10:18 a.m.

Patient Henry and his mum Shevonne in front of a Chistmas tree

Four-year-old Henry was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for life-saving surgery when he was just five weeks old. He and his family have spent two Christmases at GOSH.

Henry’s mum Shevonne talks about his time at GOSH and how your support of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) makes a difference to the children and their families in hospital over Christmas.

Santa's special visit to GOSH

Henry first arrived at GOSH two days before Christmas. It was a worrying and anxious time for the family. Shevonne recalls: “We arrived at GOSH CICU on 23 December 2017 and we were obviously full of worry and concern for what lay ahead for Henry.

“As we sat in the bedspace waiting for what would happen next, the most incredibly warm-hearted man dressed in red came and knelt by the chair I was sitting in with Henry. It was Santa, THE Santa.

“He was softly spoken and magical in every way. My husband and I had a rough five weeks just to reach GOSH with Henry, but Santa’s kind words truly gave us hope and strength to move forwards and hope for a miracle with our little boy.

“It was tough to know we wouldn’t be gathering with the extended family to show off our newborn child as we imagined we would on Christmas Day.”

Your support of the charity brings Christmas to the hospital for children, like Henry, whose treatment needs to continue over the festive season. Throughout December, the hospital joins the festivities; Christmas music is played across the wards and Santa visits with gifts bought with donations from generous supporters. Not forgetting lots of festive dressing up by the patients and the staff!

Home from home

During the 15 months Henry spent in hospital, the Tracheal Service coordinated his care with the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and the respiratory team. He spent nine months on Flamingo Ward and was later transferred to Kangaroo Wood to continue his treatment.

When Henry was treated at GOSH, mum and dad were able to stay in the parent accommodation next to the hospital. Funded by the charity, this accommodation enables parents, carers and siblings to stay together. For families who don’t live close by, like Henry’s, this is a lifeline. And it meant both Henry’s parents could be with him throughout the Christmas period.

“GOSH arranged for us to have a flat at Weston House for two weeks over Christmas,” Shevonne adds. “We were able to live as a family with Henry for the first time since he was born, responsible for all of his care, medications, ventilation and equipment.

“It also allowed for some of our family and friends to come and stay with us over the Christmas period so we weren’t so isolated. We had a wonderful Christmas in the flat and will forever be grateful for the time we spent there and the confidence it gave us to be able to care for our little Henry bear.”

Henry in front of a Christmas tree at home

Home for Christmas

Henry was discharged in January 2019 although has six monthly reviews. He still requires 24-hour ventilation and his voice is getting stronger, something the family never thought he’d be able to do, after having a paralysed vocal cord post-surgery.  “We hope Christmas 2021 will be the Christmas that Henry gets to spend with the people that love him and cherish him for the wonderful little boy he is.”

"We hope Christmas 2021 will be the Christmas that Henry gets to spend with the people that love him and cherish him for the wonderful little boy he is."

Shevonne, Henry's mum

Every child should have the chance to be at home with their families at Christmas. By donating to our Christmas appeal, your support can help fund vital resources to help get seriously ill children, like Henry, one step closer to home.

Watch Henry in our Christmas Appeal 2021 film and donate today.

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