Hundreds of children will have to spend this Christmas in hospital. It’s a situation no parent ever expects to find themselves in, and for Jade Mercer and her family, from Lisburn, her joy of welcoming newborn daughter Lacie soon turned to anguish as Lacie was whisked away and flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for emergency treatment.

After giving birth, Jade and baby Lacie had just left their local hospital when Lacie began struggling to breathe. In a state of panic, Jade returned to hospital with her baby, where doctors discovered Lacie had a serious heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which meant that the left side of her heart had not formed correctly.

Lacie needed urgent care but she was so tiny and the operation was risky. After numerous calls to doctors and surgeons across the UK, it was the specialist cardiology team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital – a leading UK paediatric centre, offering expert care to over 90,000 children and young people from across the country every year – who were able to take the tricky case on and give Lacie the life-saving operation she needed.

Jade and her partner Andrew were in complete turmoil. A private flight was arranged to take Lacie to Birmingham and with just 24 hours to spare, the couple quickly arranged an early Christmas for their other three children, who now faced spending the festive period without their parents and new baby sister.

Arriving in Birmingham, Lacie was taken for emergency surgery, where doctors worked to repair her tiny heart. Thankfully, the tricky operation was a success and Lacie was moved onto our Paediatric Intensive Care Ward (PICU) to recover.

Jade said: “When Lacie was born we never could have imagined that we’d be spending our first Christmas as a family of six, hundreds of miles apart in different countries, let alone in hospital. As awful as it was seeing Lacie so poorly, I took so much comfort from the kindness of the brilliant staff and the small touches that had been made to make the hospital feel so magical at that time of year. The hospital was decorated so beautifully and Lacie even had a visit from Santa while she was on PICU – it was such a special moment.”

Jade’s only wish for Christmas that year was that her baby would get well enough to be moved out of intensive care and that wish came true on Christmas Day when Lacie was moved to another ward to continue her recovery.

Jade continues: “Lacie’s six-years-old now and she’s doing so well. She absolutely loves Christmas and the photo we took of her with Santa at Birmingham Children’s Hospital has pride of place on our mantelpiece all year round.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Christmas is a time for family, sharing memories and making new ones, but unfortunately not all of our patients can make it home.

“Being in hospital can be distressing at any time of year but it can be even harder during the festive season. Our incredible staff go above and beyond to make sure our patients have the best Christmas possible, but it’s the generosity of our fantastic supporters that really helps us do more and make Christmas magical for our kids who are too poorly to go home.”

If you would like to donate to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s Christmas Appeal, please click here.