More Smiles

Cramped and crowded
"The care my daughter received can only be described as ‘world class’. From the moment we arrived our whole family was treated with utmost respect and dignity by all the staff on the PICU. It reassured us knowing she was in such good hands."
John Earl, Amelia's father
James BeckettI owe my life to the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
I was ten-years-old when the team saved me after I came down with a very serious case of meningococcal septicaemia.

I remember feeling very weak one morning before school - I couldn’t even walk or speak. The last thing I remember is my mum taking me to the doctors but after that everything becomes a blur. I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and I have seen photos of myself with tubes and wires everywhere. The next thing I remember is waking up and the staff treating me really well while I was recovering. As I’ve grown older I’ve tried to live life to the full, enjoying every day and every opportunity that comes my way and not waste what everyone in the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital has done for me.

I owe them all so much, as do so many other patients that have passed through the hospital.
I usually try to do something for the charity every couple of years. I always try to do something different - I have cycled from London to Paris to raise money for the unit, as well as competing in the Paris and Vienna marathons. This year my dad and I took part in the abseil at St Mary’s Hospital for the More Smiles Appeal and we really enjoyed it.

Next year I will try to do something new and maybe a bit more crazy. I am 28-years-old now and I want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me get through my illness and also to everyone who is continuing to help the children at St Mary’s Hospital.

James Beckett,
former patient
Cramped and crowded
"The best thing is that you amazing people work as a team. You’re like a family and have this bond I have never seen anywhere before. After I saw that, I had hope that my son Cori was going to be ok. Thank you for giving me a chance to be a mum."
Jossine, Cori’s mother

Logan CurtisI didn’t know if I was going to lose my boy when he was brought to St Mary’s.
My seven-year-old son Logan suffers from a one in a million brain disease known as Rasmussen’s encephalitis, as well as epileptic seizures.

One day he started suffering from continuous seizures and they just wouldn’t stop. The team at our local hospital in Colchester were trying their hardest to control them but nothing was working. He fell into a coma and his condition was deteriorating so he was transferred to the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s.

It was horrible - I didn’t know if I was going to lose my boy. I would have done anything to change places with him.
The team at St Mary’s were amazing. They talk to you with compassion and they take on board how you feel as a parent. They worked so hard to make him better and I can’t thank them enough. I abseiled down the QEQM Building to raise funds for the More Smiles Appeal because I wanted to thank them for everything they did. We held a minion-themed party to raise money too.

Logan is a brilliant kid with a brilliant heart. He’s back to his usual cheeky self now and it’s thanks to the team at St Mary’s. They saved his life - they’re angels.

Gary Curtis,
Logan’s father
Ella StevensThe team at St Mary’s Hospital saved my daughter’s life and they have also saved me.
Ella has been in and out of various hospitals since she was born at 23 weeks in my local hospital in Stevenage on 19 February 2015. She wasn’t due until June 2015 and because she was born so early she has suffered a lot of health complications, including chronic lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, problems with her gut, her eyes and one of her heart valves.

She was transferred to St Mary’s paediatric intensive care unit in September 2015 after she caught adenovirus, which resulted in a bad, sticky cold but because she has chronic lung disease she was struggling to battle it.

I had never heard of St Mary’s before as it’s a long way from Stevenage.
I was scared because going to a new hospital was daunting, but when we got there the staff were amazing. They explained what was happening all the time and there was always someone to talk to - they provide a level of care far beyond what you would expect.

Ella was at St Mary’s from September 2015 until January 2016. She was in the paediatric intensive care unit three times and was cared for in the children’s wards between those times.

I will never be able to thank the staff enough for what they have done. They saved my daughter’s life and they have also saved me – I couldn’t cope without her.

Janice Stevens,
Ella's mum

Leah Wood-MkandawireOn 20th December 1995 Leah, aged 12 at the time, woke up with excruciating pain in her right shoulder and a high temperature.
After visits to the GP and several to A&E over the next few days she was eventually admitted to Barnet Hospital on Christmas Day. Three days later she was transferred to St Marys in a critical condition with 'overwhelming infection' suffering from osteomyelitis, septicaemia and pneumonia.

Although absolutely devastated at the time my husband and I remember the relief we felt meeting the team at St Mary’s children’s intensive care unit. Dr Parviz Habibi headed up the unit, and we remember Dr Simon Nadel and Professor Simon Kroll all applying their skills and expertise to her case.

Dr Habibi explained how the treatment would progress, that it was necessary to operate to remove large areas of infection as well as treat with several intravenous antibiotics. He explained how she would be operated on and prepared us for her admission into the children’s intensive care unit. It was a traumatic time for our family to see Leah undergo surgery several times to remove the large areas of infection but the staff were so attentive and skilled that we knew she could not have better care.
I remember during the next three weeks the efficient nursing team and the early morning visits of the orthopods when I would jump out of my chair-bed to dress hurriedly! I also recall many multi-team discussions regarding treatment and Leah’s progress. I was simply amazed at how many hours some of the doctors were around and was often touched by how members of staff would find time to talk to us during the day. Leah left hospital at the beginning of February 1996.

Slowly over some months Leah recovered to full health. She left school after her A-levels and couldn't wait to start work at a local design company where she went from office junior to the manager and director's assistant. She married Tam in 2010, had a beautiful daughter who is now two years old and now lives in Florida. Heartfelt thanks to all staff past and present in children’s intensive care that have made such a difference to so many people’s lives.

Marion Wood,
Leah’s mum

Elif Celik
Elif was rushed to St Mary's children’s intensive care from our local hospital in Basildon in November 2014 when she was only four months old. She was born at 26 weeks and during the winter she contracted bronchiolitis.

When we arrived at the unit the doctors were unsure if Elif would make it as her condition was so bad. It was the worst experience of our lives to be told that our little baby daughter who had fought so hard for her life already may not make it through the night.

After two weeks, thanks to the dedication of the wonderful doctors and nurses who did everything they could to save our daughter’s life, Elif was well enough to go back to our local hospital.
During this time all the staff on this remarkable unit made us, her five-year-old brother and our entire family feel very included in Elif’s care, and always took the time to explain everything. They made what was the most horrendous time in our lives easier to manage by showing great compassion and care to us all.

We will never be able to thank both the unit and charity enough for helping Elif become the happy and mischievous one-year-old she is today.

Gemma Celik,
Elif’s mum
About the appeal
How our appeal will make a difference to sick children in London and beyond.
Who it helps
Real life stories about the lives that have been saved and radically changed by the unit.
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Here’s how you can help support the appeal, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.
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