The Wishing Tree Appeal is helping patients and their families at times of financial hardship at the five hospitals of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
The Simpsons were one of these families when they travelled from Newtownards, near Belfast in Northern Ireland, so that their son, Tom, could receive life-saving treatment for a rare form of anaemia.
Doctors performed a bone marrow transplant after finding an unrelated donor but a series of complications caused the procedure to fail – leaving Tom fighting for his life in intensive care.
Tom was put on a ventilator to aid his breathing but experts feared he would not survive. Miraculously, however, a second transplant proved successful and over several months he was able to recover.
“The hospital staff said it was unlikely that Tom would survive the process,” said Paul Simpson, Tom’s father.
“We knew he was very unwell but we prayed for him, a lot of people prayed for him. Even our minister flew over from Northern Ireland and spent a couple of days at his bedside.
“The medical team said that there are times when you do everything you can for someone and it isn’t enough, and there are other times when people survive and you can’t explain why. I think Tom was in that category. They were amazed that he survived.”
While the transplant was a risky procedure, the Simpsons believed it would dramatically improve Tom’s quality of life. He had already undergone more than 300 blood transfusions and spent thousands of hours in hospital in Northern Ireland.
The complexity of the procedure and the care that Tom required after the operation meant the family were living in London for over a year before they could return home.
During this time they received emergency financial support from Imperial Health Charity to help cover living costs so that Paul and his wife Linda could be with Tom throughout his treatment.
The money was used to help the Simpsons pay rent on a flat close to the hospital and to buy food and clothes during their stay.
Paul added: “At a time when your whole world is caving in and you are 100 per cent focused on your child, the charity’s support took the financial pressure and worry away. It removed another layer of stress on top of what we were already dealing with.
“The fact that it was all taken care of and enabled us not to have the money worries that other families have during the process was a massive boost.
“Tom is still receiving regular treatment back in Northern Ireland but he is doing really well. He gets an infusion once a month to build up his immunity and he is continuing to improve. He is in a much better place than he was a couple of years ago.”
Last year Imperial Health Charity’s hardship fund awarded £74,000 to help dozens of families like the Simpsons cover their living costs while staying in hospital at Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and the Western Eye.
Every penny donated to the appeal will help to ensure that other families can benefit from the fund and stay together this Christmas.
Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, said: “The hidden costs of supporting a loved one while they are staying in hospital can quickly stack up, making it extremely difficult simply to be together during this difficult time.
“Please dig deep and help us support dozens of other patients and their families who are facing financial crisis this Christmas.”
Imperial Health Charity’s Wishing Tree Appeal runs until January 2018, raising money to support patients and their families at times of financial hardship at Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and the Western Eye hospitals.
To help support families like the Simpsons, visit our donation page.