When two-year-old Henry Silkstone falls asleep in the car his head and neck drop forward and he can stop breathing. This can happen about once a day and has already lead to his frantic mum performing CPR at the roadside as he turned purple and gasped for air. What Henry needed was the right specialist car seat which would recline to keep his airways clear and allow him to travel in safety.
Henry has Downs Syndrome, respiratory difficulties, curvature of the spine and sleep difficulties. A cheeky and happy boy who loves to spend time playing with his big brother, three-year-old Arthur, he spends a lot of time in and out of hospital and often has to travel from his Dewsbury home to a specialist hospital in Oxfordshire. Mum Sarah would only take Henry out when they had to and if it was a long distance, dad Lee would go too.
Mum Sarah Waterhouse said: “We had just spent £250 on a car seat, but it didn’t recline far enough and his head could still flop forward. His occupational therapist said we needed a specialist seat, but we didn’t have the money and statutory services don’t fund car seats.”
The car seat Henry needed cost £409, but thankfully, when car seat specialists told the family about Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children – the largest UK charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities or a terminal illness – it was quickly able to help. A specialist car seat has now been provided. It not only reclines further so Henry’s head is less likely to flop forward, but has mirrors so mum can check on him.
The majority of the funds for the car seat were donated through Newlife’s partnership with fashion store chain River Island, through a ‘fantastic plastic initiative’. This sees the profit from every five pence carrier bag sold at River Island’s UK stores go to Newlife to directly fund vital equipment. To date, this has resulted in almost £600,000 of specialist support.
Sarah said: “The car seat from Newlife has saved Henry’s life to be honest. He will stop breathing like this about once a day in the car and as I couldn’t see him, I didn’t always know it was happening. This meant we were trapped in the house and couldn’t go anywhere really unless it was absolutely necessary.
“Now because of the car seat I am more confident and we can go wherever we need to and when we have to go to the hospital in Oxfordshire I’m not worried about him making the journey.”
Newlife’s Head of Charity Operations Stephen Morgan says: “Henry’s story shows how the right equipment can make all the difference. It’s great we could help Henry, but right now the charity is working with 11 other children in West Yorkshire in need of specialist equipment and must raise £6,139 to help them too. Newlife has already supported 501 children across West Yorkshire.
“We really want to help change the lives of children and their families, so we are calling on local individuals, groups, clubs and companies to get involved and support them too."