Nadia Marsella was one of 55 people who abseiled 10-storeys down the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Building at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington in aid of the More Smiles Appeal, which aims to raise £2 million to renovate and expand the hospital’s children’s intensive care unit.
Nadia, who lives in Hayes, is raising money to thank the hospital for treating her nephew, Maurice Marsella Joseph, who was diagnosed with a rare metabolic disorder, known as MPS 1 Hurler syndrome, shortly after he was born prematurely. The syndrome affects one in every 100,000 children and symptoms can include respiratory problems, hearing loss, an enlarged liver and vision problems.
“Maurice was very sick and was treated at a few hospitals. He came to St Mary’s when he was about seven-months-old because he caught a chest infection,” said Nadia, who works in St Mary’s Hospital’s Lindo Wing.
“His immune system was very low due to treatment and if he caught a cold it could have killed him. We thought he was going to die but the team in the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s reassured us. They understood his problems straight away and he was really well looked after.
“Maurice has recovered and he is now four-years-old. He is still taking medication but he is much better now. He is still here with us and is growing up, playing like all the kids of his age.”
Every year, around 400 patients are cared for in the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s but it also turns away hundreds more critically ill children because it does not have enough beds. This means children may have to be transferred hundreds of miles for treatment.
Last year, the unit had to turn away 233 children, more than half the number actually admitted.
The More Smiles Appeal aims to create a new unit with 15 beds, almost doubling the current number, allowing more than 200 extra children to be cared for each year. There will also be new equipment, a dedicated parents' room and a private room allowing space for doctors and nurses to provide emotional support and care to families whose children are very seriously ill.
The £2 million appeal is led by Imperial College Healthcare Charity and COSMIC. The total project cost is £10 million and the remainder of the costs will be funded by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College Healthcare Charity.
Nadia, who took part in the abseil on 27 May, thanked everyone who has helped her raise more than £440 so far.
“I am incredibly scared of heights but I wanted to abseil to help create more beds and treatments for many other kids in need. With our help we could change so many other lives,” she said.
“My nephew was my motivation to do this. He got better and I would do anything for him.”
To sponsor Nadia, go to www.justgiving.com/nadia-marsella