A little extra goes a long way for young patients

Grady Stevenson, aged eight, pictured at home in Corby. Grady suffers from an undiagnosed medical condition and has been admitted to Kettering General Hospital over 30 times.
Grady Stevenson, aged eight, pictured at home in Corby. Grady suffers from an undiagnosed medical condition and has been admitted to Kettering General Hospital over 30 times.

Eight-year-old Grady Stevenson is a massive wrestling fan.

Just the mention of his favourite wrestler John Cena brings a huge grin to his face.

Grady looks younger than his eight years and while he can hear and understand everything going on around him, he can’t speak or move at all.

His mum Lindsay Ingram, 34, of Corby, said: “We have not got a proper diagnosis, the doctors just call it global developmental delay.

“Because he can’t talk it is a guessing game. He can’t tell us if he’s in pain. He can hear everything that is going on but he can’t speak or move.

“He so badly wants to do things and he gets so frustrated sometimes.”

Grady stopped growing in the womb and he was born at 37 weeks by emergency caesarean.

He was tiny as a baby and as he began to grow he was not doing the things other children would be able to do at certain stages of development. He gets fed through a gastric tube but he goes to school every day, attending Beanfield Primary School where he has a special helper.

He has regular hospital visits to see paediatricians and bone specialists to look at his growth.

He has been admitted to the children’s ward more than 30 times, mostly due to chest infections as a result of his asthma.

Lindsay said: “We could be in overnight or it could be for as long as a week. It varies every time, no two admissions are alike.

“We know the staff so well we are on first-name terms. Grady is used to being there.

“There is always someone from the family with him, my mum might be with him during the day and I’ll stay with him overnight.

“You would obviously rather be at home but the staff can’t do enough for you and the play team are really good.

“They have a special bubble machine which is like one we have at home so he usually has that with him.

“He likes the music, the lights and the bubbles and it relaxes him.”

Grady is one of the thousands of children who will benefit when the new children’s ward is opened at Kettering General Hospital.

Based on the top floor of the £30m wing currently under construction, the new ward will have 32 beds for patients, including surgical and medical cases, a paediatric assessment unit and a high dependency ward.

There will also be a dedicated area for teenage patients as well as a play room for the younger ones and a state-of-the art sensory room, which will cater for patients like Grady.

While the sensory room has already been funded as part of the overall building project, a fundraising campaign called the Little Extras appeal has been launched in partnership with the Evening Telegraph to raise money for new toys for the paediatric unit.

The toys are important because it helps to make children feel a little more comfortable during their stay in hospital and can be used to distract them during painful procedures, such as injections.

Dolphin ward manager Katrina Allen said: “If you use play you can stop procedures being too traumatic for the children. We use it for distraction and for preparation – we get the children to act out a procedure they are going to have on a doll.

“We have a rule that we don’t do anything that will hurt someone in their bed, so they know that is a safe space.

“There are always going to be horrible things done to you when you come to hospital but the less upsetting we can make it, the better.”

The staff of the children’s ward and the patients have come up with a wish list of toys, games and play equipment and the Little Extras appeal is aiming to raise £80,000 to buy as many as possible.