Medway family praise new children’s ward for helping their nine-month-old son to breathe

Noah's family meeting Lord Fink, who officially opened the ward last week.

Noah's family meeting Lord Fink, who officially opened the ward last week. - Credit: Archant

Nine-month-old Noah is being looked after at a long-term ventilation unit at a children’s hospital in London

A family from Medway has praised a new children’s ward that is helping their nine-month-old baby to breathe.

Lucy Helling and Thomas Madden’s son Noah was born with fluid on the brain and chronic lung disease, and is one of many children being cared for on Snow Leopard - Evelina London Children’s Hospital long-term ventilation unit, which was officially opened on Thursday, January 26.

The ward has six beds for children who rely on specialist equipment who need help breathing to stay alive for months or years at a time. Most have a plastic tube (tracheostomy) that is inserted into their windpipe to create an artificial airway.

The patients staying on the ward are medically stable and waiting for housing or care arrangements to be put into place to make it safe for them to be cared for at home. The specialist team on Snow Leopard help to train carers and relatives how to use ventilation equipment safely to prepare them for when the child is home.

Before Snow Leopard opened, these patients stayed on acute wards for very sick children at Evelina London. Snow Leopard’s opening has relieved bed usage on these wards, allowing more desperately-ill children to be treated.

Being away from children with acute medical needs has reduced the risk of infection for ventilated children, who are highly susceptible to infection. Snow Leopard provides more space, is quieter and offers more privacy to patients and families. The ward contains a playroom and a therapy room.

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Noah’s mum Ms Helling said: “It’s so different over here. One of the nicest things is that it’s quiet so we can hear ourselves think. There is more personal space here compared to the other ward Noah was on before so we can be a private family unit when we want to be.

“There is enough room to put a mat on the floor and play together, and the whole family can visit and not be in the way. At Snow Leopard there is a real feeling of home.”

Noah has been cared for at Evelina London since he was a month and a half, staying on an acute ward and later on Snow Leopard.

Lord Stanley Fink, president of Evelina London and ongoing supporter of the hospital, officially opened the ward.