A Waringstown family are hosting a Tractor Run and Family Fun Day to raise money for the hospital which saved the life of their gravely ill daughter.
The Jordan family are aiming to raise funds for a new dialysis machine at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children after it played a critical role in the treatment of their daughter Grace, who took seriously ill with meningitis very suddenly last August.
Her mother Rachel has hailed Grace’s recovery as a miracle - her doctor said Grace was the sickest child that he’d ever seen in the surgery.
“We lost her for six minutes,” Rachel told the Mail, “she went into cardiac arrest, and then spent weeks in the intensive care unit.”
It all began last August when the two year old was rushed to the doctor after she had been vomiting and passing out.
Immediately the doctor knew it was meningitis and Grace was taken by ambulance to Craigavon Area Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Rachel said: “The rash was the last thing I saw, I knew I had no time to get her to hospital, I knew I had minutes to get oxygen, she had started gasping for air.
“She needed to go straight to the doctor’s surgery. I thought it was meningitis, she had really cold hands and feet.
“He later would tell me that she was the sickest girl they’d ever had at the surgery.
“We were blue lighted to Craigavon where the paediatricians were waiting on us. They knew we needed to go to the Royal. It was surreal.
“It was minutes and the doctors were like, ‘Rachel, you basically have saved your daughter’s life.’
“It happened so quickly, that’s what Meningitis does. It just attacks every organ of the body.”
Grace was with health professionals but she was still in danger and on the way to the hospital she suffered a cardiac arrest.
“At the hospital the girls were like, listen Rachel your child is very seriously ill, I asked was she going to be okay and they said ‘I don’t know’.”
As well as the round the clock care from the hospital, Rachel said that divine intervention played a role in the miraculous recovery of Grace.
“At that stage the Lord wanted me to completely hand over Grace to him to heal her, three days later I said right Lord you have Grace now, do what you need to do.
“It was then the doctors told me Grace had a good night, we’d had a good turn around.
“Her inflammation levels had started to drop.
The doctors said Grace shouldn’t be here with all the sepsis in her, but she was actually recovering, they couldn’t believe how her rash disappeared within a day.
“I can’t explain it either.”
This was the first step on Grace’s long road to recovery.
Rachel was trained to carry out Grace’s physiotherapy to get her back to her normal self.
Rachel added: “We got home on September 20. I had a whole lot of machines given to me.
“There was a standing frame, which helps her stand up. She was like a new born baby.
“She couldn’t hold her head, couldn’t hold her legs. Now she is up walking talking, eating and drinking, if that’s not a miracle I don’t what is.
“The doctors are like ‘you do realise your daughter shouldn’t be doing any of this only six months later let alone 12 months’.”
At first it was thought that Grace might need to attend a specialist school but she has recovered to such an extent that she is set to join nursery this year and begin primary one next year.
“The education and meningitis people are behind me, offering extra support if she needs it but they feel she is going okay so far,” Rachel added.
With time being such an important factor in Grace’s survival, Rachel urged parents not to think twice if they have any suspicions that their child may have meningitis.
“If you think that it could be meningitis don’t think twice, contact the doctor and get them checked as soon as possible,” she stated.
The fundraising Tractor Run and Family Fun day is taking place at the Jordan family farm on the Banbridge Road, Waringstown on Saturday from 12 noon.
There will be bouncy castle and various other attractions.
The family are aiming to raise money to help the hospital purchase a dialysis catheter which played a crucial role in Grace’s treatment and survival.
“We want to do whatever we can to help raise money for the hospital,” said Rachel.
“We are incredibly thankful for the hospital staff from the doctors surgery to the Royal Victoria Hospital (PICU).
“They don’t get enough credit for how well they do their job,” she added.
“I never thought that in my wildest dreams that my child would be in the hospital on a dialysis machine.”
“At the time we were in there, a six week old baby was also in the hospital with sepsis and there was a chance he might have needed that machine but Grace was using the machine as she was more severe.
“Could you imagine if that wee boy had needed one, they would have just had to let him die as they only had one machine? How scary is that?”