10 year old Abigail has cerebral palsy; a lifelong condition which affects movement and co-ordination. But thanks to an innovative operation performed by Alder Hey surgeon Ms Benedetta Pettorini, Abigail has been given a new lease of life. As part of Abigail’s recovery, she undertook weeks of physiotherapy at Alder Hey working closely with the hospital physio team. When a clinical team works with a child for what can be weeks and weeks it’s hard not to become like family.
“We can’t thank Miss Pettorini and the team enough for the care we received. The operation has been a godsend. Abigail can now do independent stepping, climb the stairs, get in and out of the bath…all things she couldn’t do beforehand which have really helped to increase her independence and confidence. And of course huge thanks to Carol and the amazing physio team who work with her tirelessly to help give her the best future. Abigail’s journey was also documented on BBC2’s recent series of Hospital and Abigail is still deciding whether she wants to become a teacher or a doctor when she’s a little bit older, so she can help others just like those who have helped her.”
“I see Alder Hey as one big support network. Everyone is here for each other through thick and thin, and everyone wants to do their best for the children. I have loved every single moment caring for Jonah, he’s a total star and we’ve had lots of really special times together.”
Six year old Jonah was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on his kidney in June 2018. Once diagnosed Jonah had chemotherapy and then surgery to remove his kidney at Alder Hey; a centre of excellence for treating cancer. The cancer had also spread to his lungs but thankfully this was cleared with chemotherapy. Jonah then had to learn to walk again with the ongoing and tireless support of the staff on the ward including Play Specialist Pip and staff nurse Emily.
“The staff at Alder Hey really got Jonah and us through some dark times. Emily the nurse was so kind to him; she even shaved his head for him and somehow made it fun. Pip the Play Specialist was always brilliant, again making everything fun and as ‘normal’ as it could be in those circumstances. All the staff at Alder Hey are amazing.”
said Lorraine, Jonah's mum.
“It’s the patients and families that truly inspire me each and every day that makes my job enjoyable, rewarding and very special.”
Play therapy is used to help children understand and cope with illness, surgery, hospital admission, treatments and procedures and is an essential part of the patient’s journey. Pip has worked in Oncology for 29 years and is an award winning Health Play Specialist. She helped to distract Jonah through painful procedures as well as offering him and the family emotional support.
“The best part of my job is seeing the progress that children like Abigail can make over a period of time, and truly believe that it improves their quality of life - for me there is nothing more rewarding. The team work closely together to ensure we can offer all of our amazing young patients the best possible care we can and the care they truly deserve.”