Simon’s head shave for Evelina London

08 March 2021

After being diagnosed with PIMS-TS, a very rare COVID-19 related condition in children, 11-year-old Molly was treated in Evelina London’s paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Her dad, Simon, is cutting off his three-foot-long dreadlocks to thank the medics who saved her life.

Molly Nana with her mum Sarah, both wearing face masks covering their mouths.
Molly Nana with her mum Sarah Barry

Molly’s story

When Molly contracted COVID-19 her parents noticed something was wrong. After contracting the virus at the end of November, Molly started to deteriorate a few weeks later.

“I hadn’t seen Molly like that before,” recalls Sarah. “She’s usually so chilled out, so it was very out of character for her to be demonstrating how poorly she felt.

“She looked grey, had a headache and a temperature, but then she started shaking and vomiting so I took her to our local hospital.”

The family were told that Molly could have meningitis or sepsis, and after several days she continued to get worse and developed chest pain. Doctors contacted specialists at Evelina London Children’s Hospital for advice and the South Thames Retrieval Service (STRS) was sent to collect her.

The STRS are a team of intensive care doctors, nurses and ambulance technicians based at Evelina London. When the very sickest children in the south east of England need to be transported to a paediatric intensive care unit in London, STRS use an ambulance equipped with intensive care treatments to bring life-saving care to the child.

“It was like the A Team coming in, they were just unbelievable,” says Sarah. “They were so calm and weren’t phased by the situation at all. They got to work straight away and gave her medication.”

“I knew the situation was as serious as it could get, but when we arrived at Evelina London everyone was so calm and we instantly felt safe.”

Molly was diagnosed with a new very rare condition called Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS-TS), which can affect the blood vessels, particularly those around the heart.

Thankfully, the condition can be successfully treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.

“Molly’s heart was not functioning well when she arrived at Evelina London, so we started treatment to support the heart and reduce the inflammation,” says Dr Jon Lillie, a consultant in paediatric intensive care at Evelina London. “She responded really quickly and made a full recovery.”

After three days in the paediatric intensive care unit and a night on the ward, Molly was able to go home on New Year’s Eve.

“Molly has recovered really well and is continuing to be monitored through regular check-ups. We are eternally grateful to Evelina London because they saved her life,” says Sarah.

Molly Nana pretending to cut off her dad's 92cm-long dreadlocks, which he will shave to raise money for Evelina London.
Molly Nana with her dad Simon Nana

Simon’s head shave

After witnessing doctors at Evelina London working around the clock to treat their daughter’s rare condition, Molly and her family wanted to give back to the hospital.

“I had never heard of PIMS-TS before, so I want to raise awareness of the condition so other families know what to look out for,” explains Sarah.

Molly’s dad, Simon, is aiming to raise £5,000 for Evelina London by cutting off his 92cm-long dreadlocks in March.

“This is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to the amazing staff at Evelina London who saved Molly’s life,” says Simon. “I’ll do whatever it takes to support them, and to raise awareness of PIMS-TS so other families get the right diagnosis and treatment.

“I’ve had dreadlocks for 15 years but when Molly came up with the idea of cutting them off to give something back to the hospital I couldn’t say no.”

Molly’s team at Evelina London were touched when they found out about Simon’s dreadlock shaving fundraiser.

“It’s incredibly rewarding seeing children get better,” says Dr Jon Lillie. “And when they come back and tell us about their fundraising it’s extra special.”

“While PIMS-TS is rare, it’s something we need families to be aware of so they know what to look out for and when to contact a health professional if they are worried about their child.”

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