Essex mum Karen Cogger is celebrating the fact her daughter Grace has just finished her first weeks in Year 1 at Hilltop Infant School.
Grace spent the first three weeks of her life in the neo-natal intensive care unit at The Royal London Hospital after being born with a condition called duodenal atresia. This meant the first part of her small intestine was closed off, stopping food and fluid passing from her stomach into her intestines. She needed lifesaving bowel surgery at just two days old.
Doctors at The Royal London used pioneering key hole surgery to fix the problem and Grace was the first baby at the hospital to benefit from this technique.
Despite her traumatic first weeks, she’s progressed brilliantly and is now doing well at school, making friends and enjoying her lessons. Mum Karen says: “Reception was a big step for Grace and after a successful year, we’re thrilled she’s off to such a good start in Year 1. Grace is a very determined young lady and we totally love her strength as that's what got her through her very difficult start in life. Although sometimes my husband and I laugh and say we wish she wasn't so strong willed! She’s such a pleasure and is really enjoying her new class and loves her teacher.”
The Sick Children’s Trust’s Stevenson House supported Grace’s family while she was receiving lifesaving treatment far from home. Her family stayed free of charge, just minutes from her bedside, for the three weeks it took until Grace was strong enough to be moved back home to Wickford, Essex.
Karen adds: “We were so fortunate to be able to stay in Stevenson House until Grace was better and able to come home with us. The support of the other parents and staff kept us going and we are truly grateful to have stumbled across this amazing charity.”
The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ at The Royal London, Stevenson House, provides emotional and practical support for families with seriously ill children being treated in the hospital. The house is funded entirely by voluntary donations and supports over 500 families every year.