Case studies

We were enormously touched to find gifts in our room

Thomas is almost a year old now and he lives in Wallingford, Oxfordshire with his mum Emma, dad Simon and his older sister, 3 year-old Sophie. But life as a family of four started in very uncertain and difficult circumstances.

When Thomas was five days old he was admitted to John Radcliffe Hospital after his mum noticed he was getting sick every time after being fed. Doctors examined Thomas and aspirated his stomach. They found a large amount of undigested milk in there, immediately indicating a blockage and that he would be a surgical case. Emma and Simon were devastated as they were completely unprepared for such news.

Thomas had to have an emergency operation the following day. He was too dehydrated on the first day for the operation to be safe, as he didn’t have enough fluids in his body, due to not being able to absorb and digest the milk. It turned out that his pancreas had grown in the womb around his bowel – a very rare annular pancreas – which was causing an obstruction. Surgeons bypassed the blockage in a four hour operation which was successful.

Recovery for this type of operation takes usually between three to six weeks. The family were in shock even if they were lucky enough to have many supportive relatives close by. Emma was exhausted from giving birth, having the flu and battling an infection which put even more strain on the family.

The Dadsons’ other sibling, Sophie, was getting upset about not being able to see her mum and dad, nor her new born baby brother. Luckily, our Ronald McDonald House Oxford situated at the top floor of the hospital provided a vital shelter for the family to be reunited.

Emma said: ‘I am positive that having the House as a base has reduced any long-term anxieties about hospitals and separation anxiety that Sophie could have developed as a result of the stay in hospital. Ronald McDonald House was a saviour to us at a tremendously difficult time in our lives as it helped to keep our family together. We had no idea how long we would be in hospital for but we were conscious of Christmas coming up and the snowy weather and were really concerned about being separated from Sophie or her travelling up to the hospital. We had somewhere to sleep that was close to Thomas where Sophie could stay too.

‘On Christmas Eve, we were enormously touched to find gifts in our room for both us and for Sophie. This was so lovely it made me cry. We did feel at home at the House. The communal areas were decorated and I vividly remember the Christmas tree that always lifted my spirits as for a long time Thomas’ progress stagnated and I found it very difficult to stay positive. ‘
Thomas soon started making amazing progress and the family were told they could go home on Boxing Day.

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