Healthy Living: Appeal to maintain highest level of care

Carter Whitlam, aged three, with his mum Laura, of Handsworth. Carter was born with only one lung.
Carter Whitlam, aged three, with his mum Laura, of Handsworth. Carter was born with only one lung.
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Pioneering operations, world-class research and vital treatments for poorly youngsters take place day in, day out at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

And in autumn, big changes will be getting under way at the hospital, with a new outpatients department, en-suite bedrooms, car park, sensory garden and ‘play tower’ all planned.

But as preparations are made for the development work, there remains the task of raising £20million towards the £40m cost of the revamp.

An appeal – the biggest in the hospital’s history – has been launched called Make It Better, and on June 28 a whole day has been set aside when South Yorkshire folk are being encouraged to get into the fundraising spirit to help fully realise the plans.

Individuals, businesses, schools and local communities can take part by organising events and all manner of sponsored challenges.

For Laura Cartwright and Barry Whitlam, there is no doubt in their minds that their son, Carter, would not have reached his third birthday had it not been for staff at the children’s hospital.

Carter, from Handsworth, Sheffield, was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, which meant he was born with only one lung. He was transferred to the children’s hospital when he was just four days old, and spent nearly a year on the wards until he was well enough to go home.

“It was always touch and go as to whether he would survive,” said Laura, a doctor’s receptionist.

“He had several emergency surgeries including an operation to pull his intestines back down into his stomach. The care we received at the hospital was outstanding.”

Carter now lives a healthy, happy life, visiting the hospital for regular check-ups. Laura and insurance manager Barry, 33, also have an older daughter, Megan, six.

Laura, aged 31, added: “When I look at Carter, I can’t believe he was ever that poorly. Now he’s just like every other child in his class at nursery school – he’s doing brilliantly.

“It’s crazy to think how far Carter has come. He is now walking and will be starting school full time in September – something we never thought he’d be able to do.

“When we stayed in the hospital with Carter when he was born it was really hard, but we were given our own room next to the ward which made us feel really supported. When we stayed for the second time we lived there for 12 weeks.”

Meanwhile, Joshua Draycott, 16, from Owlthorpe, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 18 months old, and has needed treatment at the hospital ever since.

Mum Michaela, 44, said: “Joshua’s cerebral palsy affects his legs and means his muscles are very tight. When he was diagnosed he could not crawl, walk or sit up without support.

“After his diagnosis he began to receive intensive physiotherapy on a weekly basis. Within six months he was crawling and sitting on his own, at two-and-a-half he began to walk using a walking frame and at age three he walked using two sticks – even his physiotherapist was amazed by his progress.”

Joshua, a student at Birley Community College, underwent two major operations during his childhood. The first was to correct his posture, and to reset his hip bones into the correct position using metal pins and plates. The second was to stretch his calf muscles.

Michaela, who works in information security for a bank, is married to Joshua’s dad Russell, 44, a police control room operator. They have another son Samuel, a twin brother to Joshua. The pair were born 12 weeks early and weighed just 2lb 15oz each at the time.

Michaela said: “We are amazed by the progress Joshua has made since the traumatic day of his diagnosis, and will be forever in debt to the numerous people he has been treated by. He had to learn to walk again but continued to attend school and astounded his teachers with his attitude.

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