A TEMPLEPATRICK family has launched an appeal to provide a much-needed MRI scanner for a Belfast hospital.
Janet Grew’s daughter Sophia was born five weeks premature last July and at just five days old while still in hospital, contracted viral meningitis.
She then developed major organ failure and was on life support for a number of weeks in the neo-natal and paediatric unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
Miraculously Sophia pulled through and continues to make good progress.
Her mum said: “She truly is a miracle child.She was on life support and fought for her life which has made her recovery all the more incredible because she wasn’t given much chance of survival.
“She had lots of lines and tubes going into her and there was a stage when they talked about a heart transplant, but she managed to pull through.
“She is still on medication, but is doing well. Because she is so young we have to wait to see if she will make a full recovery - but she has done remarkably well.
“The doctors and nurses did an amazing job - their work was so incredible and we are so grateful for all their help.”
The first class treatment of the doctors and nurses at the hospital was the inspiration behind the local family’s decision to set up the Sophia Fund.
Through it they are hoping to raise funds for an MRI scanner and equipment which is not prioritised by the NHS.
Janet explained: “We have provided a television for the Belvoir Ward, which is an isolation unit at the hospital, as well as soft seats for mothers to breastfeed on and baths for the children.
“It is equipment that the Health Service does not prioritise because it is so stretched, but it still is essential.
“I was in hospital for eight weeks with Sophia and it becomes your home. Anything that can provide some comfort is a real help to mothers and their children.
“We are making a big push for the MRI Scanner Appeal for the hospital.
“The Royal does not have a scanner for the children and instead they have to go to the adults’ hospital.
“It can be very traumatic for them and distressing for their health to have to be transported and that is why we are raising the money to provide a scanner.”
A black tie ball was held in the Ramada Hotel at Shaw’s Bridge recently and so far the fund has raised over £10,000.
Janet has expressed her grateful thanks to sponsors, Homecare Independent and Kitchens Direct NI as well as Helen’s Fruit and Vegetable Shop in Carnmoney, Colors Hairdressers, Ravin’ Beauty, Steensons the Jewellers, Greendale Day Nursery, Dalzells of Markethill and the Lovely Little Gift Company for supplying prizes for the raffle which raised over £2,000.
Janet also thanked Brendan McGeown who raised £350 by running the Belfast Marathon this year and Jego hairdressers in Carnmoney for collecting £200 by raffling a hamper.
To donate to the fund go to www.thesophiafund.com Fundraising information can also be found on Facebook.