Little Heroes – Oliver

Seven-year-old Oliver woke up one morning last year with a swollen knee which gradually got worse. His mum Michelle, who herself has rheumatoid arthritis, recognised some of his symptoms – but never imagined her son would be diagnosed with a rare form of juvenile arthritis.

Coming to GOSH

“I had no idea that children could get arthritis,” Michelle remembers. “I knew something wasn’t right and I took him to the GPs, and to A&E, and we had a few trips back and forth. He was in a lot of pain and it was really hard for me to watch as there was nothing I could do for him. Luckily, we were referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), and that’s where Oliver began his treatment for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. 

“When we first arrived at GOSH, Oliver couldn’t walk at all, and his legs were stuck in a bent position. He started on an intensive course of physiotherapy, with sessions twice a day and lots of exercises. 

“The physiotherapy team worked wonders with Oliver. Thanks to those two sessions a day every day for six weeks, they managed to straighten his legs. It was just amazing. The day he took his first steps, I burst into tears. I was so proud of him.” 

A home from home, making recovery possible

While Oliver was undergoing intensive physiotherapy at GOSH, he and his mum Michelle stayed in the family accommodation just across the road from the hospital. The service, which is funded by donations to GOSH Charity, meant Oliver and Michelle had somewhere close to base themselves during the treatment, as their home was too far to travel from each day. Oliver also spent time during their stay with the hospital’s Play team, who helped him enjoy fun games and activities that supported his physio.

Michelle explains, “It was hard being away from my other children and my partner, and Oliver missed his siblings but we video called them every day. After all his treatment and attending the hospital’s school in the day, we’d go back to the family accommodation to relax for the evening before going to sleep. It was so worth going to GOSH for six weeks to get him walking and mobile again.” 

“I thought being at Great Ormond Street was absolutely fantastic. The physiotherapy people worked wonders with Oliver.” 

Oliver’s star turn

While they were at the hospital, Michelle and Oliver met Paul O’Grady and took part in filming for ‘Paul O’Grady’s Little Heroes’. Although they were nervous at the start, they enjoyed taking part as Michelle describes, “When we first started filming it was quite daunting as it was weird thinking of us being on camera! But we quickly realised that Paul was just the same on and off camera, he’s so warm and friendly. We enjoyed taking part.” 

The whole family are very excited to see Oliver feature in the programme. “I can’t wait to see Oliver on TV!” says Michelle, “In my opinion, GOSH is the most fantastic hospital in the world. It will be exciting to see it in the show.” 

Since filming the series, Oliver is continuing to take medication and do his prescribed exercises to help manage his condition. Through his determination, he’s even been able to take part in sports activities at school as Michelle explains, “Just recently he had sports day and he did ever so well, he took part in the running and the games and I was so proud of him. He thoroughly enjoyed it and it was amazing to see him running around!”

Support GOSH 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 young people like Oliver. While Oliver was undergoing intensive physiotherapy at GOSH, he and his mum Michelle stayed in the family accommodation just across the road from the hospital. The service, which is funded by donations to GOSH Charity, meant Oliver and Michelle had somewhere close to base themselves during the treatment. Show your support for families like Oliver’s today.

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