A 14-year-old who has been through a life changing health experience has set himself a challenge to walk 10,000 steps every week until September to raise funds for the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation (GNCH) Foundation and the Newcastle United Foundation (NUF).
Daniel explains in his own words.
“On the 27th of December I was admitted to A&E at the Royal Victoria Infirmary with sudden excruciating back pain and within hours I was paralysed from the waist down. Later I was diagnosed with Acute Transverse Myelitis, an autoimmune neurological condition causing inflammation of the spinal cord. In my case the inflammation was extensive. This was devastating to me. I was always fit and healthy before my sudden illness. I was an athlete, a runner.
“In the weeks and months ahead I underwent intensive treatment and rehabilitation. I suffered numerous setbacks including a recent relapse in May. Yet I never gave up, but continued to work really hard with a brilliant multidisciplinary healthcare team on Ward 1B in the Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH). I have had to relearn how to walk and do things independently. From being completely bedbound and in a wheelchair (still), six months on I can now take steps with crutches and a few unaided.
“During my stay in hospital, first in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and later in the ward, my parents took turns and never left my bed side. Their dedication to my care and the emotional and physical support they offered me were key to my improvement and the steps to recovery. They had my younger brother to support too.
“During my hospital stay, half of which was on a bay with other sick children, I saw first-hand the amazing care that caregivers (parents and occasionally grandparents) put in to support their children and the healthcare team. I noted their anguish, stress and search for answers. I noted too their poor diet and their exhaustion. For a few caregivers it was a waiting game as they saw their children count their final days.
“Whilst all the extra activities in the ward and the support staff target the health, recreation and wellbeing of sick children, there was little, if any to support the wellbeing and health of caregivers of sick children, particularly those in long term hospital stay. In my view, improving the wellbeing of caregivers will have a positive impact on staff, children and families. I hope that the shape of these initiatives will be planned with caregivers and children too.”
Daniel sets out his fundraising plan.
Daniel is learning to walk again and can take a few steps with crutches, yet he has set himself this immense challenge to walk 10,000 steps every week until two milestones in September, his 15th birthday and the Great North Run, which he would have been taking part in prior to his life changing experience.
“My plan is to start fundraising for the GNCH Foundation, part of Newcastle Hospitals Charity on the 21st of June, the week of my discharge from hospital and continue until the date of the Great North Run (which I planned to run) and my 15th birthday in September. I plan to celebrate the recovery I make every day by taking on average 10K steps a week until the 12th of September. I dedicate every step and every penny raised to support caregivers of sick children in GNCH.
“I thank you in advance for your generous donations and support to my cause.”
Teri Bayliss, Charity Director of Newcastle Hospitals Charity, said: “An inspiring effort from a remarkable young man – thank you Daniel for such thoughtfulness and kindness, you are amazing.”You can donate to Daniel's fundraising here