Craig’s Christmas at GOSH

Craig and his family at home for Christmas
After being on dialysis for two years, in 2018 seven year-old Craig had the best Christmas present ever: a new kidney.

Craig's mum, Lisa, reflects on the wonderful Christmas spirit around the hospital over the festive season, including the lovely messages sent in from the public by way of the annual Christmas Stocking Appeal.

Rocky Start

When Craig was nine months old, doctors discovered an orange-sized tumour, known as a Wilm’s tumour, on one of his kidneys. He went on to have chemotherapy and later the kidney had to be removed. “You can live perfectly well with one kidney – he had all his chemotherapy and he was doing really well,” says Craig’s mum, Lisa.

After having check-ups every three months and all being well, Craig, by then aged five, suddenly had tummy ache and couldn’t pass water. His family found out that the cancer had returned in his remaining kidney.

“After going through it all once, it was traumatic to think it’s happening again,” Lisa shared.

The doctors tried to save some of Craig’s kidney and planned to take the tumour out. However, during surgery the doctor’s told Lisa and her partner Brett that it wouldn’t be possible to save part of the kidney. Craig would have to go onto dialysis.

Life on Eagle Ward and Weston House

“We went up on Eagle Ward and the staff were totally amazing,” says Lisa. “It’s like they become part of the family. He had a couple of sessions of dialysis and within two days we were learning how to do it ourselves. It was really frightening at first but the support we received was amazing.”

During that time the family moved into Weston House, a charity-funded parent accommodation. Lisa and Brett could start doing Craig’s dialysis knowing that GOSH staff were close by if they needed help, with Craig continuing with his chemotherapy at the hospital.

A Christmas to Remember

There was a two year wait following Craig’s chemotherapy before he was well enough to have a kidney transplant.

The family then got the best Christmas present ever – the news that Craig’s dad Brett was a match to donate his kidney. “It was like the best Christmas present ever,” says Lisa.

The transplant took place on 19 December, which meant that Craig needed to stay at GOSH over the festive season. “We were at GOSH over Christmas recovering, but it didn’t matter… they are so jolly and happy, and they make such an effort,” says Lisa. “Father Christmas came to Craig’s room and delivered presents. We even had Christmas dinner down in the canteen, because by that point we could get him in his wheelchair and off the ward for a few hours.”

Lisa’s spirits were also lifted by GOSH Charity’s annual Christmas Stocking Appeal, which encourage the public to send messages of hope and support to children and their families at GOSH over Christmas, and to donate to the charity.  “When I used to get a cup of coffee for ten minutes, I can remember reading all these people’s messages. It was lovely,” she says.

Looking to the future

Craig and his family are now looking forward to an extra special Christmas this year out of hospital. “I think it will just be amazing because we will have what they call his ‘kidney-versary’, which will be the 19 December, so we are planning a big party for his year,” says Lisa.

Craig doesn’t need to be on dialysis now and only has to come to GOSH every three or four weeks for check-ups.

Donate to the Stocking Appeal or leave a message for patients and families at GOSH this Christmas.