Children’s Hospital

Tuesday, 10 August 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1


In the final episode of Children’s Hospital, 18 year old Zanib Nasim has been admitted with swine flu. For Zanib, this is a potentially life threatening virus as she has cystic fibrosis, a condition which has brought her for treatment at the RMCH since she was six months old. Zanib has to take an incredible 55 medicines every day, but for her “it’s like a routine. I don’t have anything to compare it to, so it’s just my normal life”.

Cystic fibrosis affects the sufferer’s lung function, and today Zanib has just 36% lung capacity, which is a huge worry to her family and the cystic fibrosis team. A normal reading for a CF patient would be approximately 80%. Zanib will need close monitoring and intensive physiotherapy to help her lungs function as she recovers from swine flu.

After two weeks, Zanib is over the worst of the virus and returns to have her lung function tested. After a couple of blows into the machine, she is exhausted ��” and her capacity is still only 46%. It’s crucial that she regains some strength in her lungs. Zanib has had to cope with poor health all her life, and in common with all CF sufferers has a life expectancy of only 40. However, Zanib is determined to beat the odds and is busy revising for her A levels. She says: “My ambition is to go to the University of Manchester and study Pharmacy there. Maybe if I can do this, I can help make better medicines and change someone’s life”. To the CF team, Zanib is an inspiration. “She’s in control of her CF ��” she doesn’t let it control her” they say.

A week later and it’s good news at last for Zanib: her lungs are functioning at 60% and she has beaten swine flu. She is back on track and revising hard. The following week she sits her exams and is offered a place to study Pharmacy at Manchester University. “Hopefully I’ll be coming back to the hospital as a pharmacist ��” not as a patient” she says.

At the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s Paediatric Emergency Department, four week old Harley Pierre is diagnosed with pyloric stenosis: a condition that affects his ability to digest milk; he will need emergency surgery. Two year old Harris is back at the hospital to have his dressings changed after burning his head and arm a week ago; and four year old Luke has a toy pellet stuck up his nose. It’s business as usual at the Children’s Hospital…

Series producer: Tanya Cohen
Executive producer: Mark Downie

Tuesday, 3 August 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

Episode Eleven: Amelia Pringle Price

At the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, three year old Amelia Pringle Price needs urgent brain surgery ��” but the risks are high. Amelia was born with a rare progressive disease called Moya Moya which affects just one in a million. The blood vessels that supply blood to Milly’s brain are too narrow, which means she could have a life threatening stroke at any time.

“I’m scared of letting her cry because it could bring on a stroke at any time” explains mum Natasha. It’s been an incredibly difficult decision to agree to the operation, which took Natasha five weeks to reach: “I added up the pros and cons and they were exactly the same”.

Although Milly appears to be in good health, her condition means that she is in permanent danger. Consultant Paediatric Neurosurgeon Ian Kamaly explains: “Moya Moya is just a time bomb waiting to go off”. While it’s possible to grow out of the disease, Milly’s scans reveal that her condition is getting worse. So today she’s arrived for the operation that could save her life ��” but also runs the risk of inducing a stroke during surgery. Mum Natasha says “I’m absolutely dreading it; we’re really close ��” we do everything together”.

Milly’s condition is so rare that Mr Kamaly only performs the operation once or twice a year; during the eight hour surgery, he will attempt to divert an artery from the side of her head and stitch it onto her brain. It it works it will help to increase the blood flow to Milly’s brain.

The operation goes well; it will take six months to find out if the blood flow has improved, but more immediately the team will discover if Milly has avoided a stroke during surgery which could have caused brain damage. When she wakes up, Milly is alert ��” all the signs are good, and at last she and her family can look forward to a future without fear.

Also on Children’s Hospital: in the dedicated Children’s A&E department, doctors treat up to five children a day with eye problems. Today, 13 year old Sinead is brought in with ulcers in her eye. The team also treats four year old Amy’s head injury and Dr Phil Riley, Consultant in Paediatric Rheumatology sees 12 year old Joshua who has juvenile arthritis.

Series producer: Tanya Cohen
Executive producer: Mark Downie

Tuesday, 27 July 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

Episode Ten: Freya Moogan

At the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, 11 year old Freya Moogan is having a final check up before facing surgery for the fourth time.

Freya was born with a cleft lip and palate, which is a condition in which the lips, jaw and roof of the mouth don’t grow together while the baby is developing in the womb. It has affected Freya in many different ways, including her speech and hearing. Today, she will have a final check before an operation to fill the hole in her jaw with bone taken from her hip; without the operation, her adult teeth won’t be able to grow properly.

Part of a 24-strong team, Professor Bill Shaw is the orthodontist who has treated Freya since she was a baby. He says: “Very few people know what a child with a cleft lip and palate goes through ��” these are not trivial operations”. Freya confesses to “feeling nervous and excited ��” I just hope this will be the last one”.

In the dedicated children’s A&E department, doctors treat approximately ten dog bites every month. A week ago, four year old CJ was bitten on the face by the family pet. He needed surgery and has returned today to have the stitches removed. One of the hospital’s team of dedicated play specialists, Gill Bailey is brought in to help relax and distract CJ during the procedure. Also being treated today are 18 month Oliver who is brought in with burns after pouring hot tea over his arm and face; and 12 year old Victoria who has broken her wrist.

Around one in 600 children are born with a cleft lip and palate in the UK; today Freya’s surgeon Marie Morton, who has been treating children with the condition for 20 years, will remove a piece of bone from Freya’s hip to fill the hole in her jaw. After a hug and a few tears with mum Annalisa Moogan, Freya is taken to the operating theatre. Annalisa says: “You’d think it would be easier when they are older, but in some ways it’s harder because they understand more”.

During surgery, there is a setback when Miss Morton discovers a large hole between Freya’s mouth and nose; she has to stitch up the hole before the new bone can be inserted in order to reduce the risk of infection. The operation continues successfully and the ordeal is over for Freya. She will now be monitored for two weeks before she discovers whether her dream ��” of a normal life with no more surgery ��” will finally come true.

Series producer: Tanya Cohen
Executive producer: Mark Downie

Tuesday, 20 July 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

Episode Nine

At the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, ten month old Dolly has been brought in by her parents Emily and Mike, who are worried about her vomiting and agonising stomach cramps. Mum Emily explains: “I knew there was something behind her crying ��” it wasn’t normal and there was a look of terror on her face. She would throw herself about and I would struggle to keep hold of her”.

Consultant Paediatric Surgeon John Bowen, who has 15 years experience and specialises in gastroenterology, diagnoses Dolly with a hiatus hernia that has caused her stomach to be pushed into her chest. He says: “It is rare for someone so young to suffer from a hiatus hernia ��” you usually see it in adults and older children. It is very dangerous and could become life threatening for Dolly”.

Dolly will need surgery to repair a large hole in her diaphragm and to move her stomach back into place. As her parents take her to the operating theatre, they are full of nerves. “It makes you feel so guilty because she thinks she’s coming for a day out and it’s actually a major operation,” says Emily.

The operation goes well and Dolly’s diaphragm is re-stitched. Fortunately, she has no other internal damage ��” a relief to Mr Bowen who warns: “I always tell parents to expect the unexpected”. Now only time will tell if the operation has been a complete success ��” the Children’s Hospital will monitor Dolly closely over the coming weeks.

Elsewhere in the Children’s Hospital, Professor Simon Carley is leading the 60-strong team on shift today in the dedicated children’s A&E department. The hospital sees around 200 children a month with breathing difficulties. One year old Scott has been brought in by his mum after he started struggling to breathe. Scott was born with a long list of medical problems and spent the first six months of his life in intensive care. He also has an artificial windpipe and it is possible for it to tighten, making breathing difficult. After an X-ray is taken, the doctors can see that that is what has happened – Scott is given medicine to relieve his breathing. Meanwhile, 11 year old Alex is brought in with a cut lip and possible broken nose; and nine year old Callum has broken his wrist.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit is one of the largest of its kind in the country; children come from all over the world to be treated by the 30-strong team.

Six year old Emily Fish is in the process of having a bone marrow transplant that could save her life. Aplastic Anaemia affects only one in a million children; Emily has now received new donor blood cells, donated anonymously through the Antony Nolan Trust. Her doctor, Robert Wynn – director of the unit – says: “We have still got a long way to go; this is a process not an event. We’ve put the cells in, but it will take a long time ��” maybe months ��” to re-grow the blood”.

Right now, Emily has no immune system and infection is a major risk. “If you stop to think about it, it’s really scary” says dad Mark. The only way to protect Emily is to keep her isolated; the air in her room is filtered and only essential staff and her parents are allowed in. “It’s like being in jail” says Emily. To help her keep positive, Emily is making a video diary.

The side effect Emily is dreading most is the loss of her hair. And on Boxing Day, her worst fears are realised as ten days of chemotherapy start to take their toll. Emily is given a wig, which helps to revive her spirits and Robert Wynn explains that “the positive side of it is that Emily losing her hair is part of gaining her blood. And in the big scheme of things, blood is more important than hair”.

In three days time, Emily and her parents will find out if the transplant has been a success when her blood count is measured.

The Children’s Hospital Burns Unit is the first of its kind in the country and Nurse Maria Roberts is on duty to look after 12 year old Jack Ferguson who has burnt his hand after a firework exploded in his hand. Meanwhile, in the dedicated children’s A&E department ten year old Callum is brought in with a footballing injury and Professor Simon Carley treats 12 year old Richard who has been bitten on the leg by an illegal pit bull terrier.

Finally, after three weeks there’s good news for Emily; her blood count is growing and the stem cells have grafted. She can finally leave her isolation room and as she runs through the hospital corridors, her thoughts turn to home: “I’ve forgotten what my bedroom looks like!” she says. At last, Emily and her parents can look forward to a normal life, although she will still need to be monitored regularly by the hospital. And Emily’s sunny disposition will be much missed by the staff of the RMCH: “She’s a star!” smiles Robert Wynn.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

At the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, 1000 medical staff work tirelessly round the clock to help the children who need it most. This week one of the hospital’s youngest patients, 12 week old Olivia Dixon, needs life saving surgery.

For Lucy and John Dixon, a moment of joy soon became every parent’s worst nightmare when after a successful and straightforward birth, their baby girl was immediately at risk. Lucy explains “It was a planned home birth ��” faultless ��” but when they weighed Olivia, the midwife noticed her tummy was distended”. Olivia was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered a cancerous tumour in her liver, a condition that affects only one in a million babies. Despite the horrific news, John says “You have to think positively because it could destroy you otherwise”.

At 16 days old, Olivia began chemotherapy and after eight weeks of treatment she is back at the RMCH for an operation to try and remove the tumour which has pushed into her pelvis and is filling her abdomen. Under the care of Honorary Consultant Paediatric Oncologist Guy Makin ��” an expert in child cancers ��” she will soon undertake the operation which could save her life. For Lucy and John, it’s hard to take in: “She’s so happy, it’s hard to believe there’s anything wrong. She’s not had a chance at life yet” says John.

The operation is under way, amidst fears that Olivia will lose too much blood or that the cancer has spread. It’s an anxious time: finding the tumour will be easy because of its size, but removing it will be a long and delicate process. After four hours and significant blood loss, the tumour is removed. Olivia will be kept sedated in the I.C.U for the new few days while she recovers and she will need close monitoring for the next year, in case the cancer returns.

Meanwhile in A&E, it’s 6pm and the busiest time of day for the department. Lorcan Duane, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, is in charge of tonight’s shift ��” amongst the many patients being treated, two year old Jacob has cut his head and will need stitches under sedation, 11 year old Bethaney is rushed in with suspected appendicitis and 13 year old Josh has broken his collar bone, smashing it into three pieces.

Four months later and Olivia is back at home in the Lake District. A routine scan has showed the results that Lucy and John have been dreading: Olivia has a lump in the remaining half of her liver. The same aggressive cancer has returned and she will need more chemotherapy and a complete liver transplant. “It’s not supposed to happen like that ��” it’s not supposed to come back. It’s a massive setback” says John.

But for Guy Makin, there is always hope. As long as Olivia remains in the care of the Children’s Hospital “we are treating Olivia with the aim of curing her” he says.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

Episode 6

The star of episode one of Children’s Hospital, seven year old Jack Norfolk, is back. Today, Jack and his mum, Jeni Spilsbury, will meet surgeon Andrew Henry to find out if an operation to repair his hip has been a success. Jack suffers from a range of genetic diseases including poor eyesight caused by glaucoma. Later, he will visit an eye specialist to see if the eye drops he’s taking are working; if not he’ll have to undergo surgery for the 23rd time in his short life.

In the ICU (intensive care unit) four year old Reuben is fighting for his life after being rushed in by his parents, Stephen and Nicola, five days ago. The doctors at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital have discovered that Reuben’s heart is failing but they don’t know why. Clinical Director of Critical Care, Peter Marc Fortune, explains: “We need to go through a list of things that could be wrong and run a battery of tests to see if we can find out what is wrong and diagnose the condition”.

Meningitis and swine flu are quickly ruled out, but now begins an anxious waiting game for Stephen and Nicola, who stand helplessly by while the doctors battle against the clock to find out why Reuben’s body is shutting down.

It’s good news for Jack as the operation on his hip has been a success and, after some physiotherapy, he should soon be on his feet again. However, now he’s about to find out whether he needs an eye operation. Jack is apprehensive saying: “‘I have a funny feeling I will need an operation”. He hates going into theatre and it never gets any easier. But mum Jeni is full of praise for her resilient little boy, saying: “I’m the one who gets down in the dumps, not Jack”.

Meanwhile, it’s another busy day in the RMCH’s dedicated children’s A&E Department: 12 year old Jordan has cut his leg playing on the ice and seven year old Altom has broken all three bones in his arm after a fall.

Series producer: Tanya Cohen
Executive producer: Mark Downie
Production company: Maverick Television

Tuesday, 27 April 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

In 2009 the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital opened its doors in a blaze of publicity and celebrity support and a revolution took place in the UK’s child healthcare. On a site the size of 39 football pitches, 1000 medics will treat an estimated 200,000 patients a year. The hospital’s 24 hour children’s A&E Department sees around 3,000 patients each month, from newborn to 16 years old.

This week on Children’s Hospital: six year old Emily Fish is being treated for a rare blood disease – Aplastic Anaemia affects only one in a million children. A failure of the bone marrow means there is insufficient blood to circulate the body. In just six months Emily has changed from “an amazing little girl, full of life ��” in two or three days, she’s become seriously ill” dad Mark explains. Her life is now in serious danger, though she looks and feels well. Her symptoms were simple: bruising easily and pale skin; only blood tests revealed the dramatic truth. Mum Kate says: “You don’t expect it to ever happen to you; we are just in a state of shock”. Now, Emily’s only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant.

Doctor Rob Wynn is the Paediatric Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Programme; it is his job to explain that the risks are high and a transplant could be fatal. “It is our judgement that it’s the right thing to do” he tells Kate and Mark, “but we need your consent”. For Emily, it’s an easy decision: “It’s going to make me feel better and I like getting better”. She will spend Christmas in hospital as chemotherapy destroys what is left of her bone marrow and her immune system is taken away ��” essential for the successful transfer of the new bone marrow. “What noise does a new bone marrow make when it goes in?” asks Doctor Robert Wynn ��” “Yippee!” replies Emily.

Despite a gruelling ten days of chemotherapy, Emily remains positive. She says of the forthcoming transplant: “This is the greatest Christmas present ever!” and sings along to her favourite band, ABBA, to keep her mind off the treatment. When the time comes for Emily to receive the 250 million donated stem cells, her father says: “It’s a long journey of many milestones and today is a massive milestone”. Now all they can do is hope and pray that the transplant will be a success.

In the ever busy children’s A&E Department, two year old Blake is brought in by his mother after an itchy red rash broke out all over his body. Meanwhile, 14 year old Jordan hobbles in with a mystery object lodged in the sole of his foot. Accompanied by his stepfather, who had to have his foot amputated after a simple wound became infected, Jordan is desperate to find out if he will be OK. Two year old Joseph also arrives in A&E with his worried mother; he will need surgery for a deep forehead wound.

Series producer: Tanya Cohen
Executive producer: Mark Downie

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