Jumping for joy for Evelina London
17 June 2020
From nearly losing her life to a debilitating illness at just 12 months old, Annabelle Fitzgibbons has, five years later, bounced her way to raising over £2,000 for the hospital that saved her life.
Annabelle fell critically ill and was rushed to Evelina London’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) by the South Thames Retrieval Service when she was just one year old.
“She couldn’t have been more ill. She had no motor function, no sight and no hearing and it was unclear if she would make any recovery,” says her mum, Sarah.
At the hospital, Annabelle was diagnosed with meningitis and sepsis before being put into a medically induced coma. She remained semi-conscious for about a month.
When Annabelle finally started to recover, it was clear that her life would be very different.
Not only had Annabelle’s meningitis and sepsis caused her to lose multiple senses, but it had also left her with cerebral palsy. To get better, she would need support from across Evelina London to try to recover. With the help of the staff across the hospital, she had to relearn everything from basic functions like swallowing and opening her eyes, to walking and talking.
But throughout this scary time, Sarah felt confident that Annabelle was in the best of hands.
“Even though we were there at one of the worst times of our life, we were lucky to be at Evelina London,” says Sarah.
“We met so many people from many different departments when she was there because she needed so much attention. Everyone was fantastic, and we felt very safe,” says Sarah.
“We always feel at home when we come to the hospital. We couldn’t have been anywhere better.”
“Evelina London saved Annabelle’s life. They gave her the early support that has helped her start to recover and are still working hard to help her to continue to develop. We are so lucky that Annabelle is here and has recovered as well as she has.”
Annabelle’s trampolining challenge
As the coronavirus pandemic put the nation into lockdown, Annabelle decided to complete a 30in30 challenge in support of Evelina London to help staff on the front line of the pandemic.
Five years and one day after she was rushed to hospital, Annabelle pledged to bounce 30 circuits around her trampoline for 30 days and raised over £2,000.
Annabelle’s trampolining challenge has a special significance for her supporters, who know how hard she has worked to gain enough strength and confidence to bounce on the trampoline.
“For us it’s wonderful to see her doing it because without Evelina London she may never have been able to take on this challenge,” says her mum, Sarah.
“Because of her severe visual impairment and cerebral palsy, it’s a very new thing for her to have the strength and confidence to get on a trampoline of that size by herself and to stand up and bounce without falling down.”
But now jumping on the trampoline has been a highlight for Annabelle during lockdown, who loves to have dance parties on it.
“Annabelle knows what it’s like at Evelina London. She understands how some people are critically ill in the hospital for a very long time and knows first-hand how hard the staff work to help everyone under their care,” says Sarah.
“The people on the front line of this pandemic are the same people who have supported Annabelle over the last few years. She’s really excited to give back to them.”
The contrast between Annabelle’s health when she first arrived at Evelina London and now is huge. “It’s a lovely anniversary to start raising money for the people who helped her,” says Sarah.
Sign up here to start your own fundraising challenge for Evelina London.
Sign up here and start your own fundraising challenge for Evelina London