"I wanted to give something back"

Guest blogger: Paul

When my daughter Elizabeth, aged 4, was taken ill in April 2016, it was with luck she happened to be attending an outpatients' appointment that day at the Evelina Children’s Hospital, so was admitted to the ward. My wife and I knew something was wrong with her kidney but had to wait a long time for a diagnosis. She is suffering from a rare kidney condition called C3, where her immune system thinks the kidneys are attacking the body so it, in turn, attacks the kidneys stopping them from functioning. She has been treated with steroids and continues to use immune suppressant medication.

We live on the South Coast, so travelling to the hospital in London on a regular basis was already taking its toll physically, mentally and financially. When Elizabeth fell ill and was admitted to hospital we needed some help, which thankfully came along in the form of Ronald McDonald House Charities. We have another child, Hannah, aged five, so I stayed with her at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ House which was great, it meant we were close to Elizabeth and my wife, who stayed at the hospital with Elizabeth, and could spend more time with them rather than having to travel back and forth to the South Coast. The other parents were really supportive because they understood what we were going through - we would all lend each other a shoulder to cry on and provide help at a time when it was so desperately needed. All the children played together at the House and I had the pleasure of a show they put on where they enjoyed handing out sweets and chocolate to all the parents watching! It really helped me forget, just for a moment, the events of the day.

While we stayed a company came in to cook breakfast and we also benefited from the Deli across the road donating sandwiches, you don't realise until you are in that situation how nice people can be and how such a lovely gesture like that can really give you a boost when you need it most.

Following our stay at the House, I wanted to give something back, so have organised a dress down day at work. Everyone will donate £1 and my company will double this. We also had the opportunity to volunteer for a day, so myself and two colleagues helped with getting the new Evelina London House ready for opening. Having stayed at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ House, the new one is like a starship in comparison! The space is amazing, the rooms are so welcoming and the view across the park is wonderful. But I think the most important thing is the proximity to Evelina Children’s Hospital. Hannah and I would use the staff bus that went to and from both Guys and St Thomas', but this would take 40 minutes each way so it would mean a two hour round trip that we often didn't bother with, staying at the hospital all day instead, and returning in the evening. When the new House is open it mean so much to families to be able to pop back to their room, even if just for a break from the hospital. Most importantly, they will be only a few minutes away from their sick child if they are needed.

Thank you Ronald McDonald House Charities, you are a great cause which benefits many families, for which we are all eternally grateful.

Ronald McDonald House Evelina London

Find out more about Ronald McDonald House Evelina London, a brand new 59 bedroom Ronald McDonald House at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, opening in December 2016.

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