Alfie's nine month journey
Alfie Howell was born in April 2013 with a bone growth disorder called achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism. Complications arising from his condition meant he would spend nine months of his life in hospital, including over the Christmas period.
On 25 August 2013, Zoe and Steve Howell were on their way to Portugal for a family holiday when their four month old baby Alfie stopped breathing. Zoe quickly went into action, giving Alfie mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in Manchester airport's cafe. Alfie was then rushed to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital with Zoe, Steve and daughter Maisie-Grace by his side.
Whilst Alfie was being treated in hospital far from their home in Stourbridge, his family were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House for a week, just a moments walk away from Alfie's bedside. Once Alfie recovered the family went home, but after a few days it became clear that Alfie would need further medical care.
So Alfie was admitted to Birmingham Children's Hospital where he spent the next nine months. He had to have multiple surgeries, including an eight-and-a-half hour operation to remove a piece of bone from the base of his skull to avoid a build-up of pressure on his spinal cord.
During this time, the family were able to stay at the nearby Ronald McDonald House. On Christmas Day, Steve and Zoe decided to spend time at home with Maisie-Grace, enabling Alfie's grandparents to stay in the House and spend the special day with their grandson.
Speaking about Christmas at the House Steve says:
“I spent a lot of time there over Christmas last year, there was a Christmas tree and decorations. The staff tried to make Christmas as happy as it could be in the circumstances, providing care packages to each of the families and having little extras to make it special for what was an especially difficult time.
"Ronald McDonald House was like a home from home. I was able to leave my clothes there and talk to people when I came in during the night. Everyone there is in the same boat.“
Alfie’s grandparents will be with him this year as well, as the family gear up for a big celebration at Steve and Zoe’s home to mark Alfie’s first Christmas outside hospital.