Looking at bouncing baby Sophie Jepson now it is hard to believe she almost died within a fortnight of her birth.
After mum Belinda Towler took her home last January the tot could not keep any food down and was admitted back to Doncaster Children’s Hospital as an emergency.
Doctors there were so concerned they arranged for a rapid transfer to the Leeds General Infirmary where it was another week before she could be stablised and eventually diagnosed with a blockage in her bowel.
Meanwhile Sophie’s distraught parents, Belinda, aged 28, and Ian Jepson, 39, found comfort from being able to stay near the LGI at Eckersley House, which is run by the Sick Children’s Trust charity.
“With the help of Eckersley House we were able to be at her bedside at all times to care for Sophie and bond with her as she was still only weeks old.
“The house also helped us to have a bit of stability and order during such a hectic period and cut down dramatically on the need for the 80 mile round trip from our home in Bentley every day,” said Ian, a car salesman.
He added: “When we first went back to the hospital in Doncaster all the doctors could tell us was that her body had started shutting down and we were going to LGI cardiac intensive care as her heart was beating too fast and Sophie was at risk of dying.
“Over the next week Sophie got stronger but still the doctors could not pinpoint the cause of her sickness. After numerous scans it was found that Sophie had a blocked bowel and would require surgery.
“We had to wait five or six days for the operation because there were more urgent cases than Sophie’s.
“After the surgery we had to wait nearly three weeks for her to feed properly for the first time. It was only 5ml of milk but she kept it down and we realised she’d be OK. It was a wonderful moment.”
Ian and Belinda had never heard of The Sick Children’s Trust before the drama but they spent nearly a month at Eckersley House right across the road from the hospital.
“They played an integral part in our lives and the recovery of my daughter and it gave us a space to relax a bit, in the knowledge we were only a phone call and minutes away from the ward.
“The house manager, Jane, and her staff were understanding and always helpful and there to give advice and above all there to listen and talk about our situation. I cannot praise them enough for their kindness and the way we were looked after.
“Meeting other parents in the house in similar situations and being able to talk to them about their child and their treatments was a source of encouragement and something we drew strength from in those early dark days when we didn’t know what the future held.”
Her dad says Sophie is making excellent progress and is now out of any danger and the doctors “have told us to treat her the same as a normal baby from now onwards.
“I can’t express enough my gratitude for this wonderful charity and everything they did for me and my family.”