Little Hero – Angel

When Angel was three months old, doctors in Peterborough discovered she had tumors in both her kidneys. Unfortunately, chemotherapy was unsuccessful, so she had to have both kidneys removed at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). She now relies on dialysis to keep her healthy while she waits on the transplant list. Her mum Honey shares her story. 

“When Angel was born in May 2017, she was a perfectly healthy baby. But as the months passed, we started to realise that she was having difficulties with her health. Our GP referred her to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where they did further investigations. We were told that she had tumours in both of her kidneys and she’d need chemotherapy. They started her on treatment that day in hopes that it would save at least one of her kidneys. But it didn’t work; nothing worked. 

“Because the tumours were in the middle, they couldn’t save any part of either. They both had to be removed one by one, and the only place they could do the procedure was at GOSH. She was transferred to the hospital where we stayed for two weeks for her to have the surgery. When we got home, she was surprisingly fine, other than the effects of the chemotherapy. But because she doesn’t have any kidneys, Angel needs to return to GOSH to have dialysis three times a week.”

Weekly visits to GOSH

“Angel had her first dialysis when she was 18 months old. Since then, we’ve been through all the options of trying to find her a kidney. Initially, we thought a family member could be a donor, like my mum, dad, or sister. One of my sisters who lives in the Middle East was very keen to help Angel. Everything looked really promising, but when the last test came though, we were told it wasn’t possible. Angel’s granddaddy even came to see if he was a match, but nothing worked. Now Angel is on the transplant list and we’re waiting for that phone call. 

“While initially Angel had quite a tough time coming to GOSH so often, she’s now used it. Now that she’s four, she knows what to expect and is close with the doctors, nurses, and Play team, who have been a great help to her. She no longer gets travel sickness when we travel up to London and she’s got into a routine of getting up and knowing that she’s going to GOSH. She’s quite happy to visit the hospital. The whole experience has made her very assertive too. She’s regularly meeting doctors and dealing with quite difficult situations for a little girl, so she has no opportunity to be shy. If she has something to say, she’ll come right forward and say it. 

“She’s a very good girl. She’s cheerful, lively and very active, even after a three-hour long journey after having dialysis all day. The first thing she wants to do is tell us about her day—for example, that she did some colouring or some other fun activity with the Play Specialists on Eagle Ward. During Easter she didn’t get any lessons from the GOSH teachers and she came home upset because she didn’t get any lessons. She’s very positive. She never gives up and just keeps trying.” 

Playing on Eagle Ward

“Play Specialists are very good with all the kids that visit Eagle Ward. Even when they are tired, the play team finds ways to keep them busy and make dialysis easier for them. The play team will ask Angel and the other children what activities they want to do – whether it’s painting, colouring in, or reading. They're fantastic.

“Engaging in this way has helped Angel connect with the other children as well. She makes friends very easily, she’s very chatty. She wants to know what new kids are coming. Angel is also always concerned with others. If one of her friend’s parents go out to get tea, she tells the nurses to keep an eye on her friend. She watches everyone. The only thing she doesn’t like is if another patient gets upset and becomes tearful. She’ll ask why they’re crying and become upset herself. She feels a connection with them.”

Home away from home

Angel and mum, Honey celebrating Angel's 4th Birthday

“We live in Peterborough, so coming to GOSH multiple times a week can be hard to manage. We both work at the moment.

"I go two days, and my husband does Fridays. We leave for GOSH at 7am and usually don’t get back until 5–5:30pm, so when we get home we’re very tired. It’s a tiring journey going back and forth, even if you’re just sitting there on a train. But when we arrive, it’s all very pleasant. They say ‘hello’ and ask who you are, and it’s not just the staff. We’ve developed really good relationships with other parents – friendships. We’ve gotten to know each other because we spend so much time together. It’s really like a second family because we spend so much of our lives at GOSH.”

Angel recently celebrated her fourth birthday on Eagle Ward with her friends, family and favourite play specialists. 

Support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity 

We raise money to enable GOSH to provide world-class care for its young patients and their families in many ways, including funding projects that help to provide enhanced patient and family experience, like the Play Team. The dedicated team of charity-funded play experts interact with more than 160 patients and siblings each day to bring fun into the hospital and help patients come to terms with their illness.

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