Special yearly parties for tracheostomy patients

28.11.18 Categories: Patient stories, Supporter stories, How donations help,

Thomas King has been cared for at Evelina London for most of his young life. He was born with a serious heart defect which means he faces multiple operations in the coming years, and he relies on a tracheostomy to help him to breathe.

Thanks to your generous donations, Thomas has recently enjoyed a very special party at the hospital which is thrown every year for tracheostomy patients and their families.

Thomas’ story

Not even yet two years old, Thomas has already had one complex operation on his heart and more will follow at around the age of three.

Thomas’ tracheostomy is a small plastic tube which is inserted into the windpipe to form an artificial airway. They are commonly used by people with breathing difficulties.

The party was a chance for Thomas to meet other children who have a tracheostomy, something which his dad, Ryan, says is hugely important.

‘It was the first time Thomas realised that he wasn’t the only child to have a tracheostomy,’ says Ryan. ‘For us, that meant a lot, because in ‘normal’ situations he realises that he is different to other children. He often looks at his best friend back home and realises he doesn’t have one. 

‘Seeing children at the party with a tracheostomy just like him, he was able to engage with them and I think it helped him to understand his own tracheostomy. Nobody at the party stopped and stared at him, which in home life we get quite a bit.’

Wonderful efforts from the ENT team

The party is thrown each year by the ear, nose and throat (ENT) team at the hospital, and this year 28 tracheostomy patients and their families went along. The event offers a lovely chance for families of children with a tracheostomy to meet each other and socialise.

‘It’s an important opportunity for families to meet each other and share experiences,’ says Samantha Gainfort, ENT nurse specialist.

‘We’ve seen different families supporting one another and strike up lasting friendships over the years, and they’re families that may not ordinarily meet. It’s wonderful to have some of the same families attend year after year.’

Encouraging inclusivity

This year’s party was the fourth one in a row and was themed around princesses and superheroes. Each year the party has been supported by your generous donations, helping to buy decorations and bring in entertainment such as a disco, face painting and arts and crafts for the children.

‘I first came up with the idea of an annual celebration when a family I was caring for told me that their child had never been invited to a party,’ explains Samantha. ‘People can have preconceptions about children with a tracheostomy and are often scared of the unknown, which means they might be nervous about inviting them to social events. I wanted to host a party so that all our patients would feel included.

‘We have all the activities you would expect at a children’s party, we even theme them each year. It means that the children can have a fun experience at the hospital and associate us with fun, especially when they see the staff dressed up. 

‘By hosting the event each year, families can enjoy all of the usual fun of a children’s party in a safe and supportive environment.’

Magical experiences like this are so important to children and their families who spend much of their time in hospital. Get involved today and help us continue to go above and beyond for our young patients.