Variety children's hospital patient whose life was saved returns with presents for all its kids after fundraising drive

A FORMER Variety Children’s Hospital patient, Amelia ‘Millie’ Woodham, decided to fundraise for sick kids after her life was saved.

Knowing what it is like to spend Christmas in hospital, Millie decided to try put a smile on kids' faces this festive season.

When Millie was 15 she underwent a liver transplant following a suicide attempt, after a long battle with severe depression and anxiety.

Her liver failed after her suicide attempt, leading to her needing the transplant.

Millie spent a lot of time on the wards away from family, especially over Christmas, this was particularly difficult, given the fragile state of her mental health at the time. 

The Variety Children’s Hospital Rays of Sunshine ward stepped in and provided Millie’s family with private charitable accommodation nearby.

This meant that a family member could always be on hand for Millie, whenever she needed them. With her loved ones by her side, her outlook improved and she discovered that it’s still possible to enjoy Christmas in hospital.

Variety was conceived of the Variety Children’s Hospital in 1983, and since that time it has become one of the world’s leading paediatric liver and kidney transplant units.

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Millie has never forgotten what a difference the kind and sensitive care she received from staff during her Christmas stay at The Variety Children’s Hospital made, and how much this contributed to her recovery in the long term. 

So, she got to work with best friend, Megan Scott, to fundraise cash to buy presents for kids spending this Christmas in hospital.

Millie knew that sometimes children worry that Santa won’t know where they are, and might not be able to visit and bring them presents and getting a gift while they’re in hospital is a way to remind them that they haven’t been forgotten at Christmas.

Millie and Megan first approached family and friends and then work colleagues for donations.

They were surprised at the positive response they received: a lot of people were keen to donate – whether they knew Millie’s story or not – even though 2021 has been a tough year for so many.

The two friends were astonished to receive more than double their initial target amount of £250, and they finished up with a grand total of £515.

Then it was time to go shopping.

“We arranged things so that children of all age groups would receive age-appropriate gifts they could take home,” Millie said.

“We also donated presents to the ward for everyone to use on an ongoing basis.”

The women were careful to purchase Covid-safe gifts only and due to Covid restrictions, couldn't give the presents to the children themselves on Christmas Day.

Millie said: “We just wanted to spread some happiness and Christmas joy to children who are probably experiencing some of their darkest days. Hopefully, we achieved this by doing our fundraiser during the season of giving.” 

Jackie Ambrose, Play Specialists Team Leader at King's College Hospital, said: “Christmas in hospital without presents is no Christmas at all. The gifts will provide a welcome distraction and reduce stress if the children are having to undergo procedures.

"They will make a huge difference to the children and their families.”

Ronnie Nathan, Chair of the Variety Children’s Hospital Liaison Committee, added: “On behalf of Variety, the Children’s Charity, I would Like to thank Millie and Megan for their amazing fundraising gesture, which has purchased presents for all the children who will be spending their Christmas in the Variety Children’s Hospital at Kings College Hospital in Denmark Hill."

Variety Is very proud of the achievements of the medical and nursing staff of the hospital, who are part of the Variety family.

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