Mum backs lifeline appeal

A PONTEFRACT mum whose baby cannot cry is backing a campaign to build a home-away-from-home at a specialist children’s hospital.

Tina Blanckensee, 34, wants to raise awareness of the Sick Children’s Trust ‘Branching Out Appeal’ to build a new 13-bedroom family facility at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Mrs Blanckensee, of Churchballk Lane, said she was “lucky” to get a room at the hospital’s current family accommodation site, Treetop House, while her seven-month-old daughter Makenna was receiving life-saving treatment for achondroplasia – commonly known as dwarfism.

But the mum-of-three says countless families are “crying out” for a room and wants to raise awareness of the charity’s campaign.

She said: “When Makenna was first in hospital I slept in an armchair, it was only luck I managed to get a room.

“Without Treetop House I couldn’t have stayed with Makenna. I couldn’t have gone every day and maintained a home life with my other children.

“Makenna’s a baby and wanted her mum around for comfort, and that wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t stayed, but there’s so many families crying out for help and assistance.

“We’re backing the campaign because there’s 28 families on the waiting list at any one time. It’s a fantastic facility, it’s brilliant and they’re doing their best, but there’s not enough space.”

Makenna was in the intensive care unit at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for eight weeks and had to undergo a tracheostomy operation to help her breathe, meaning she can no longer make a sound to alert her parents if she is upset or needs help.

Mrs Blanckensee said only was able to stay with her seriously ill daughter when the Sick Children’s Trust threw her a lifeline and stepped in to house her at Treetop House – meaning her husband Carl, 38, could stay at home with their children Reilley, seven, and Liberty, four.

She said: “A lot of families in West Yorkshire have to go over to Sheffield because it’s a specialist facility. It was the only option for us, but it’s an hour’s journey from Pontefract, which we wouldn’t have been able to make every day.

“It was hard but being able to stay at Treetop House allowed my husband to stay at home with the children and come over on the weekend to visit.

“They could come to the house where there was a big playroom and a kitchen where I could still play mum to them. This campaign highlights individual cases like ours.

“We’re trying to raise awareness because the charity needs help.”

To donate visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org and select ‘Branching Out Sheffield Appeal 2012’.