Wednesday, 17 April 2024
Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Boy, 9, fundraising for the hospital that gave him life-changing treatment

OLYMPIC Champion and The Children’s Hospital Charity patron Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill has thanked nine-year-old Zachary Guilder, from Braintree, Essex for beginning a fundraising mission for Sheffield Children’s Hospital after receiving expert medical care for a rare condition. 

Zachary Guilder experienced knee troubles from birth, being born prematurely at just 35 weeks, and growing up with chronic pain and stiff joints.

At the age of six, Zachary was referred to a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Nicolaou, at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Providing treatments across a wide portfolio of clinical specialities, Sheffield Children’s often has children travel from across the UK to receive specialist medical care.

Three years ago, Zachary and his parents, Antonia and Tim, made their first three-hour-long drive to Sheffield Children’s where Mr Nicolaou understood Zachary’s condition immediately. It was found that Zachary was born without his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that connects the thighbone to the shinbone in his left knee. This made his joint unstable and painful with an associated tear of his meniscus (cartilage that helps to absorb shock when the knee is being used).

Zachary had surgery to create a new ACL from tissue that comes from the thigh, called the Iliotibial band, to make space within the knee for the new ligament – a procedure called notchplasty – and repair his lateral meniscus. With Zachary still growing, it was important to use techniques to prevent limb shortening or issues whilst he is still growing. As a result of these complications, Zachary had to have further surgery to remove scar tissue that was preventing his knee from healing.

Zachary’s treatment was a success. With a love of all sports, he was finally able to play his favourite sport, football, with his friends, all thanks to the care received from doctors, nurses, and physios at Sheffield Children’s. Zachary will remain under the care of Sheffield Children’s, having yearly appointments to make sure he is well.

After seeing a young boy raising money for a charity on television, Zachary got to work on his own fundraiser for The Children’s Hospital Charity that supports Sheffield Children’s Hospital, writing a letter to the head teacher at his school.

In the letter, Zachary asked for a yellow-themed day, to represent the charity mascot Theo the Bear, which the school happily helped organise. He soon got to work, creating posters to place along the school corridors to raise awareness of the day.

Understanding the tough financial times, Zachary wrote in his letter that he understood not everyone would be able to bring money in, but that he would appreciate anything they could raise for Sheffield Children’s.

Zachary said:

“Mr Nicolaou is my favourite doctor because he is kind, clever and funny. He also brought me a bar of chocolate! I always think that he is like the superhero Thor with his big hammer.

“I want to raise money for all the children, doctors, nurses, physios and helpers that work at this amazing hospital.

“One day I would like to do a sponsored walk or even a marathon but a sponsored fun day at school is the best start.”

Zachary’s mum, Antonia, said:

“Sheffield Children’s looked after us, always being considerate and supportive.

“It’s the personal touches that make a difference, the genuine care and bonding over things like favourite Everton players! Because of this, Zachary doesn’t mind his trips to the hospital.”

Community Fundraising Manager for The Children’s Hospital Charity, Lucy Cain, said:

“It’s incredible to hear Zachary’s story and how Sheffield Children’s has changed his life. It’s even more incredible to hear he wants to give back and fundraise for us!

“It’s amazing to see a school on the other side of the country has raised vital funds for Sheffield Children’s. Fundraising like this helps the Charity make sure the team at Sheffield Children’s has exactly what they want, when they need it, to deliver the best possible care for patients just like Zachary and helping to care for children not only in the local region but beyond.”

If you’d like to fundraise or donate to Sheffield Children’s, please visit: tchc.org.uk. 

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