A simple piece of equipment – a specialist buggy – means that little Alexander Atkinson, from Sheffield, can enjoy valuable moments with his family.
Alexander – who was one earlier this month (October) – has a complex and life-limiting condition that includes intestinal bleeding. He has spent many weeks in hospital, but with doctors unable to carry out further surgery Alexander was discharged four months ago.
While local statutory services provided some supportive equipment for Alexander, there was a long wait for a specialist buggy to get him out and about. So on the advice of an occupational therapist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Alexander’s parents applied to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children for help.
Newlife is the UK’s leading charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. In South Yorkshire alone, Newlife has supported more than 300 children, with equipment totalling £277,755.
Alexander’s mum Katie Fontana said: “When the hospital said there was nothing else they could do we just wanted to get Alexander home as soon as possible. If we hadn’t been able to borrow the buggy from Newlife we would have been stuck indoors all through the summer months.” The specialist buggy is designed to carry the potentially life-saving equipment that Alexander needs wherever he goes – an oxygen tank, suctioning machine and ventilator. The seating can be moved to be forward facing – when Alexander is having a good day – or rear facing to his parents so they can closely monitor his condition.
Katie said: “We want to make the most of our time together as a family and having the buggy means that Alexander gets a change of scenery. We even had a day out to Castleton, thanks to the buggy.”
The equipment was delivered to the family’s home in Ecclesfield, Sheffield, two days after they contacted Newlife, through the charity’s Emergency Equipment Loans service. This supports families of life-limited and terminally ill children through provision of specialist wheelchairs, buggies, beds, seating and portable hoists. Equipment often supports children’s discharge from hospital.
In response to the growing need in South Yorkshire, earlier this year the charity launched its Newlife South Yorkshire Fund. The fund’s website – www.newlifecharity.co.uk/southyorkshire – enables local people to find out who needs help in their county right now and highlights the support the charity gives families. It includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right now, there are another 21 children with disabilities and terminal illness in South Yorkshire with equipment needs totalling £20,276. If you think you could help, go to the website and click on the Donate button.
Pictured: Alexander Atkinson