Two-year-old Rhys Deans from Oxley Park in Milton Keynes, was at risk of choking to death every time he travelled by car.
A service providing emergency equipment to disabled children in Buckinghamshire is under threat because of a lack of funding and needs urgent donations to survive.
The Emergency Response Service run by Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children relies on donations to provide some of the region’s most vulnerable children with life-changing equipment like specialist car seats and beds when they urgently need it.
Last year the charity rescued 66 children from crisis situations across the South East – an increase of 65% on the previous year and more than in any other part of the country – delivering desperately needed equipment within 72 hours of receiving the emergency call. Every child was at serious risk of harm, their lives put on the line because of a lack of specialist equipment and a health and social care system unable to respond quickly enough.
One such child, two-year-old Rhys Deans from Oxley Park in Milton Keynes, was at risk of choking to death every time he travelled by car.
Rhys has spent two thirds of his life in hospital; enduring 14 surgeries because of a genetic condition called Noonan’s Syndrome, which has caused a life-limiting heart defect. To prevent him from choking, Rhys must be kept fully supported in an upright position at all times and travelling in a standard shop bought car seat was putting his life in peril.
“Rhys can vomit up to 40 times a day,” explains his mum Stacey. “The two hour journey to Southampton hospital regularly takes us four hours because we’re constantly having to stop the car to prevent Rhys from choking.
“It got to the point when I didn’t want to take him out in the car anymore, not even to hospital appointments, despite his Dad, Brad, sitting in the back with him and propping him up.”
Thankfully Newlife had the emergency funds in the bank to buy Rhys a specialist protective car seat which was ordered on the same day the application was received by the charity. But without donations this unique emergency service is under threat – which means there’s a chance the charity won’t be able to help the next child in crisis.
Stacey added: We just didn’t know where to turn to for help until Rhys’s Occupational Therapist recommended Newlife.
“The charity’s emergency funds meant we received the seat within three days. The specialist seat keeps him fully supported now and has drastically reduced the risk of him choking. Most importantly the seat rotates and tilts so I’m able to quickly release him if he does start to choke and become distressed.”
Carrick Brown, Senior Manager of Newlife’s Care Services said: “Newlife’s unique rapid response service means children, like Rhys, can get specialist disability equipment in an emergency situation. Unfortunately we’ve seen demand drastically increase over the last 12 months. The South East has seen a rise of 65% on the previous year, and as such our emergency funds have all but run out which means there’s a risk we won’t be able to help the next child in crisis.”
“We’re receiving more and more calls from healthcare professionals and families desperate for urgent disability equipment. Newlife relies on donations to keep its emergency response service running and is desperately calling on the local community and businesses to support its Emergency Crisis Appeal.
Newlife runs the only emergency loan service in the UK and can get equipment to a child in danger within 72 hours – but only if we have funds. And right now, we simply don’t.
To help other disabled children in crisis like Rhys, in urgent need of specialist equipment, you can donate today by calling 01543 431444 or online at www.newlifecharity.co.uk/crisis.