Jessica's story

24th December 2016 started out as any Christmas Eve would for the Lamb family. Yet 24 hours later, parents Ruth and Joe would find themselves sat next to their then 21-month-old daughter Jessica in Bristol Children’s Hospital’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Jessica became critically ill on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and after being given CPR by doctors at Gloucester Royal Hospital and diagnosed with a very severe case of Pneumonia, was rushed to Bristol Children’s Hospital for urgent, lifesaving care by WATCh (Wales and West Acute Transport for Children). Sedated and ventilated, Jessica arrived at PICU at 1.30am on Christmas morning, where she was found to have a temperature of 40 degrees.

Mum Ruth said: “The staff on PICU were so kind and welcoming. We were just devastated, in a complete state of shock, and had no idea what to do. We thought at that time we’d be sorting out Jessica’s stocking, but instead we found ourselves in the most terrifying, unpredictable situation.”

Jessica remained sedated for two more days, until 27th December when she was taken off the ventilator. “She was doing well, and had enough strength to open a Christmas present kindly given to us by the PICU team. We were told that it was likely we would be transferred back to our local hospital in the morning, which was just the best news in that situation.”

However, the worst was yet to come. Just two days later, Jessica had quickly deteriorated. Doctors found that as well as Pneumonia, she also had two serious respiratory viruses, Adenovirus and Human Metapneumovirus. Jessica was re-ventilated and sedated, giving her the best chance for her to rest and recover. “This was a huge blow for me and Joe. We just felt so hopeless. Christmas is supposed to be this happy, special time of year, yet here we were just praying that Jessica would make it through the night.”

On 31st December, Ruth and Joe received the devastating news that they couldn’t hear any airway entry into her lungs, and because she was already on the maximum amount of air pressure and oxygen, there wasn’t anything else they could do. “It was just devastating, and we felt so hopeless. However the amazing team in PICU used one final technique to try and open her lungs. One extremely tense hour later, the consultant came over and told us it had worked. I can’t describe to you the relief that we both felt when they told us that. Our little girl had battled against all the odds.”

Five days later, Jessica was taken off the ventilator for the final time. After a short stay in the High Dependency Unit, the family were transferred back to their local hospital, before finally being discharged on 14th January. “We will be forever grateful to the incredible, hardworking staff at Bristol Children’s Hospital. They saved Jessica’s life. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to look forward to spending this Christmas at home with our little girl.” Together with family and friends, Ruth and Joe have raised over an incredible £2,000, and brought many gifts for children, who like Jessica in 2016, will be in hospital over the Christmas period.

Ruth and Joe are continuing to fundraise for The Grand Appeal in order to raise money for the hospital that saved their little girl. To donate, and help children like Jessica, click here.