Jane's story It was one of the most difficult times of my life Our third daughter Lara was born in May 2007, having been diagnosed during pregnancy with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. We were told that Lara would need at least 3 open heart surgeries, and even after that her heart would never function as a normal heart. The rest of my pregnancy was one of the most difficult times of my life. As soon as Lara was born she was transferred to Birmingham where she had surgery at 5 days old. Lara spent a week on the Intensive Care Unit. It was not as I expected. Intensive Care was lively, but not chaotic or frightening. There was a real sense of positivity, care and most importantly normality. Going home Going home at two and a half weeks old was a jubilant but terrifying time. Lara was on numerous medications and she did not look like the bouncing baby you expect to return home with. More than five years of gruelling surgery followed for both Lara’s heart and a hip condition that almost meant she would never be able to walk unaided, including a third major heart operation at 6 years old which changed everything. Prior to her surgery Lara couldn’t walk an aisle of a supermarket without being breathless – post op she has gone from strength to strength. Lara is a feisty, funny and determined little girl who battles every day to do everything her sisters can do. A special place for the whole family All hospitals understand that for a child to survive it needs medical help but BCH understands that for a child to thrive, its family also has to thrive. It is such a special place that makes every family feel special. I believe that the work of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity has helped to forge this attitude through the hospital. The funds the charity receives, including through generous gifts in Wills, help to fund pioneering treatments and medical advances. The staff are paid for by the NHS but the charity ensure we have a hospital that is designed to go the extra mile for every family. Doing more During Lara’s first stay here I vowed to fundraise for the hospital and in 2011 I ran the London Marathon, raising £10,500 for the new cardiac hybrid theatre. I feel proud that I have been able to make a difference to this hospital that has done so much to enhance our lives. The care we have received and continue to receive at BCH has not only saved Lara’s life medically but also emotionally. We are supported as a family of five and given the confidence and independence to go out and live Lara’s life to the full. And it has been a very full life for a child born with half a heart whose survival was not guaranteed. Thanks to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Lara has half a heart but not half a life. That’s why I am considering doing more for Birmingham Children’s Hospital by leaving a gift in my Will – I would urge you to join me in supporting in whatever way you feel you can.