THE Children’s Hospital Charity is preparing for another magical Christmas at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust as patients still visit for care and treatment over the Christmas period.
One patient well-versed in celebrating the Christmas cheer at Sheffield Children’s is ten-year-old Iris-Mae Obieshi, from Manor Top, Sheffield, who has been treated for complex health conditions there since she was born.
When Iris-Mae was just three months old, mum, Sarah, found a lump on her shin. As she was so young, specialists believed it to be an orthopaedic problem that Iris-Mae would grow out of.
By the age of one, Iris-Mae was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type 1 (known as NF1), a condition that causes non-cancerous tumours to develop on and under the skin, affecting blood pressure, eyesight, and the brain and nervous system.
Spending many days and nights in Sheffield Children’s Hospital over the years, Iris-Mae had multiple surgeries to try and save her left leg, where a lesion was causing a problem known as pseudarthrosis. This is where the tibia does not form properly. Multiple operations were required to fit external fixators, four bone graphs from her hips, metal rods and plates, and they even tried to fuse her fibula and tibia.
After years of unsuccessful operations, the decision was made to amputate Iris-Mae’s leg last year.
Mum, Sarah, recalls:
“There were so many operations and our amazing specialists had well and truly tried to save her leg. We had the conversation together, and Iris-Mae completely understood her condition, so we were prepared.”
Now aged ten, Iris-Mae is well-acquainted with life at Sheffield Children’s, even spending many Christmas periods there throughout her life. Walking through the hospital, Iris-Mae is greeted from all angles, from receptionists and porters to Fiona in Costa Coffee, to Jane at The Children’s Hospital Charity Hub, and of course nurses, doctors and physios, all of whom know her bubbly personality and good humour very well.
“I’m not scared to visit the hospital anymore. I have lots of friends there, and there’s always something exciting happening. I’ve met lots of celebrities like Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United football players, and the Sheffield Steelers team too.
“At Christmas, Santa visits my friends at school, and I sometimes miss out on seeing him there, but he always visits the hospital too, so I don’t have to miss out.”
The Children’s Hospital Charity and Sheffield Children’s work hard to make sure that those who need to visit the hospital over the festive period aren’t forgotten among essential care and medical treatments. In 2022, thousands of pounds were raised through The Children’s Hospital Charity events including Sheffield snowflakes, Glow in the Park and Christmas Jumper Day, helping to fund items needed most at Sheffield Children’s. The Charity distributed over 2,600 chocolate selection boxes to 34 departments across Sheffield Children’s sites, as well as gifting over 1,500 gifts kindly donated by organisations and individuals across the region and beyond.
“We know that we will always have to have treatments, checkups and monitoring at Sheffield Children’s for Iris-Mae’s condition, but I can’t fault the efforts the teams go to, as well as the public for thinking of us in difficult times. Seeing all the kids’ faces light up at the sight of Santa walking through the wards, handing out donated toys and chocolate is just amazing. It means so much.”
With no known cure for NF1, Iris-Mae will be under the care of Sheffield Children’s for the foreseeable future, receiving new treatments and continuous monitoring.
Last year, 90 patients stayed at Sheffield Children’s Hospital on Christmas Day. To make this year even more magical over the festive period for children that need it most, The Children’s Hospital Charity is encouraging the public to donate just £2 to take part in Theo’s Christmas Jumper Day. To sign up for free, please visit: tchc.org.uk/christmasjumperday.