Northampton toddler left unable to walk after chickenpox could have waited months for a buggy...until charity swooped in

The parents of a seriously ill toddler who was left unable to walk after catching chickenpox have thanked the charity that came to their aid by loaning them a vital buggy.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 1:44 pm
Three-year-old Ben Tew would have had to wait months for a specialist buggy - but a children's charity stepped in to help out within days.

Despite surviving life-threatening sepsis three-year-old Ben Tew’s parents feared he’d never make a full recovery because NHS red tape meant it would take months to get the specialist equipment he needed to transfer him across hospital for critical physiotherapy.

Ben from Northampton was a healthy toddler until he caught chickenpox in September last year, a common childhood illness that usually has no lasting effects.

But his skin became so badly infected his health rapidly deteriorated, developing into devastating sepsis and multiple-organ failure.

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Ben is currently at his home in Roade, making a good recovery.

In the blink of an eye, Ben went from being a fun-loving boy, to relying on a ventilator to breathe at Northampton General Hospital.

Despite improving in the following weeks, he remained weak and fragile but was denied the chance of vital physio to rebuild strength in his muscles because the hospital did not have a suitable specialist buggy in its equipment store. it would have taken months to secure one through the NHS – time Ben just didn’t have.

But the family has described how the children's disability charity Newlife came to the rescue – delivering a specialist buggy to Ben within 72 hours of receiving the call for help from his dad - also called Ben - through its emergency equipment loan service.

Ben’s father, 39, from Roade, said: “We nearly lost Ben. To be told he couldn’t receive rehabilitating therapy was unbearable. He’d already been through so much – he just needed a buggy that would support his body and all his medical equipment so we could take him to physio, and give him some respite from just lying down in his hospital bed.

“Now Ben is home, we use the buggy every day. As a result of the sepsis, Ben has lost two toes and there is lasting damage to the skin and muscles of his legs, so he can only walk for a few minutes at a time. The loan buggy from Newlife is a godsend. I don’t know what we would have done without it.”

Ben senior says his son is doing really well and is currently acting as his full-time carer. The toddler may take years to recover fully, but his dad believes the loan of the buggy has given the youngster the best possible chance.

"He is doing really well," said Ben senior. "He had a relapse and was back in care in March due to breathing problems.

"But he is trying to move about quite a bit more - he is getting a bit more back to being a toddler like he should be."

Carrick Brown, senior manager of Newlife’s care services said that the NHS is in short supply of specialist equipment for children.

He said: "We’re receiving more and more calls from healthcare professionals and families desperate for disability equipment in a crisis situation. Statutory assessment times and delays in provision impact most on those families whose children, like Ben, simply don’t have time to wait.

“In most areas, local health and social care services jointly commission integrated equipment stores. These warehouses hold vast amounts of standard equipment suitable for adults including chairs, walking frames and beds. The equipment can be delivered rapidly to adults in need. But when it comes to children, no such publicly run, effective service exists.

For more information about Newlife, or to enquire about loaning equipment, head to its website head to the website: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/crisis.

The Staffordshire-based charity is entirely reliant on donations, which can be made by calling 01543 431444, or by texting CRISIS to 70300 to give £3 a month.