A mum-of-two shed tears of joy after meeting one of the big-hearted donors who helped purchase a £5,000 cutting-edge device to help patients like her daughter breathe easier.
Caroline Smith, mum to 12-year-old Cystic Fibrosis patient Milly met Adrienne Stark at The James Cook University Hospital after the generous donation from Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
The donation allowed the purchase of a Physio Assist device by Teesside Cystic Fibrosis Service, who mum Caroline says provide a lifeline to Milly and her family – including vital emotional support.
The service received £5,000 as the big winners of the charity’s £25,000 Golden Giveaway, which saw members of the public vote for their favourite worthy cause. Teesside Cystic Fibrosis Service topped the poll to clinch a £5,000 grant – the exact sum needed to purchase a Physio Assist device.
The machine is now benefiting children with Cystic Fibrosis as part of their daily physiotherapy, clearing sticky mucus from their lungs and enabling more effective and rapid treatment of underlying infections.
The portable machine is even benefiting patients like Milly in their own homes. The team from the service, which looks after children with the life-limiting condition, regularly go out and see patients across the Teesside community, as well as being on the other end of a lifeline telephone service, with staff making themselves available at all hours.
Caroline said: “When we found out the service had won £5,000 to purchase the device, I cried and so did my mum.
“Like all patients with Cystic Fibrosis, Milly has daily physiotherapy but I felt what we were doing at home wasn’t enough – just the way she was coughing. Something was there that wasn’t shifting.
“To be able to ring the service and say ‘Can you come out with the device?’ is a huge plus.”
“When I met Adrienne, I cried. I’m just thrilled to bits that there are people like her who are so selfless to make donations to charities like the Philanthropic Foundation that can help so many worthy causes. It’s very humbling.” Claire Lord, a specialist physiotherapist for the service which cares for sufferers from birth to 19 years of age, said the device is already benefiting many of its patients. She explained how it achieves more in just 10 minutes than a normal 30-minute physiotherapy session, both improving lung function and helping to treat underlying chest infections.
“We have tried to use it on as many patients as we can to get the best out of it,” said Claire, from Billingham.
“The effectiveness of this device means we can get better samples from the patients so we can identify the right treatment for any bugs that we find.
“It potentially stops admissions to hospital as the device can be used in the patient’s own home and it doesn’t cause as much tiredness in patients as other forms of physiotherapy as it works faster.
“The patients we have used it on have been aged between seven and 19 and they are loving it because it works quite fast and they are feeling clearer. It’s been amazing to see.”
Claire praised parents and families who use the service and other members of the public for voting for the service in the Golden Giveaway, with the money instantly making such a difference to so many patients’ lives.
“I think it’s unbelievable that the Philanthropic Foundation helps so many organisations and worthy causes in our area,” she said.
“Our patients and families have really got on board and helped us win the maximum amount.
“We would have been over the moon with £500 but as we got the full £5,000 to buy the machine, there were tears.
“There were so many causes who would have been worthy winners so we couldn’t believe it when we won.”
But to families like Caroline’s from Hartlepool, the money is fully deserved.
Caroline said: “They are just marvellous. As a parent, when you’ve got a child with a life-limiting health condition, being able to pick up a phone and talk to someone is invaluable.”