Seven-year-old transplant patient drew on her experience for new Leeds Children's Hospital fun design contest

A girl who underwent two liver transplants at Leeds Children's Hospital drew on her experiences as a patient for ideas in a fun design competition  for the city's new children's hospital.

By Mark Lavery
Friday, 4th December 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 4th December 2020, 11:58 am

Work has got underway on a £600m project to build a new adults' hospital and a new children's hospital in Leeds.

Seven-year-old patient Violet Lawson Chhokar won a design contest after using her experiences to think carefully about what would help her and other children in hospital.

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Start of demolition of the former nurses home building at Leeds General Infirmary. Patricia Taylor President of the LGI Nurses League is pictured with seven year old design competition winner Violet Lawson Chhokar. Picture by Simon Hulme

Violet won the under eights section of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust's Daring Design competition, which gave children the opportunity to submit their design ideas for the new children's hospital.

The trust invited Violet and her mum Helen to see demolition work start on the former nurses’ home building at Leeds General Infirmary on Thursday (Dec 3)

It signalled the start of a five-year project to build a new adults' hospital and a brand-new home for Leeds Children’s Hospital.

Retired nurse Patricia Taylor who lived in the former nurses’ home during her training at the hospital in the 1960s joined in the celebrations as she and Violet both waved green flags to signal the start of demolition.

An artist's impression of how the two new hospitals will look in Leeds city centre

Violet underwent two liver transplants at Leeds Children's Hospital when she was aged two and still visits regularly for her routine post-transplant appointments.

She has had numerous long stays in hospital, often in isolation from other children to protect her from infection risks.

Violet, who made a video of her hospital design ideas, said: “The most important thing is to have lots of outside space, and balconies so people in isolation rooms can have fresh air too.

"I would like signs made out of pictures from children’s books, so we can find where to go easily.

A still image from the video seven-year-old transplant patient Violet Lawson Chhokar made for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals design contest. Violet won the under eights section of the trust's Daring Design competition, which gave children the opportunity to submit their design ideas for the new children's hospital.

"On wards where you share a room, we could have moving walls instead of curtains, so that it is quieter and more private.

"In isolation rooms I would like to see through walls with walkie talkies and pens to draw on the glass together so children can play together and not be lonely.

"Toys that help us understand what is going to happen, like teddies we can do blood tests on.

"More play workers and lots of things to play with, it’s really, really important for children to be able to play.”

A still image from the video seven-year-old transplant patient Violet Lawson Chhokar made for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals design contest. Violet won the under eights section of the trust's Daring Design competition, which gave children the opportunity to submit their design ideas for the new children's hospital.

Violet added: “I have been in hospital a lot so that helped me to think about what could be made better for children in hospital”

“The best thing about the hospital is the play team, they are really amazing and make being in hospital fun.

"All the people who work at the hospital are really kind and do their best to always help everyone.

"The worst thing for me is having blood tests, but the play team has really helped me to feel more confident and brave about it now.”.

Her mum Helen said: "I’m delighted for her that the thought she put into her ideas was recognised, and I think the Daring Designers competition was a brilliant way of encouraging children to contribute to their hospital.

"All the children who entered came up with wonderful ideas and it was quite enlightening to see what mattered the most to Violet and all the other young patients."

A still image from the video seven-year-old transplant patient Violet Lawson Chhokar made for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals design contest. Violet won the under eights section of the trust's Daring Design competition, which gave children the opportunity to submit their design ideas for the new children's hospital.

Julian Hartley, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I’m pleased that some of our young patients have been involved in coming up with ideas on the kind of hospital they would like to see, and we’ll be involving patients all along the way as we finalise the design and development over the coming year.”

The new hospitals are part of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s Hospitals of the Future project, one of six projects in the first wave of the UK Government’s Health Infrastructure Plan (HIP) - its national programme of healthcare capital investment.