When Connor Lynes was rushed to hospital having suffered a stroke aged just 14, having somewhere to stay was the last thing on his family’s mind.
But his auntie Sara, who the teenager lives with, was with him in Leeds and her daughter Emily was back at home in Hull, alone and worried.
As Connor lay in a coma in intensive care, the staff at Eckersley House stepped in.
The family were given a room at the accommodation opposite Leeds General Infirmary, which meant both Sara and Emily, 17, could stay close to Connor as he was treated there.
“A massive weight was lifted off my shoulders, as it meant Emily could come over to Leeds and be there with us,” Sara said.
“Being a single parent, she would have been completely on her own for the five weeks Connor was treated at the LGI had it not been for Eckersley House.
“Connor would have also been without his sister which would have potentially set him back and my daughter would have been without her Mum – she needed me at this time, she took it really hard.”
Connor had suddenly suffered a stroke after a seemingly minor accident on the pitch just over a year ago. Initially he seemed fine, but the next morning he collapsed and was rushed to Hull Royal Infirmary.
“He was immediately admitted into resus – that’s when the alarm bells started ringing,” Sara said.
“We were meant to go straight to LGI for specialist treatment, but I was shocked when the surgeon came down and said if he didn’t operate now, we could lose him. Connor might die.”
A blood cot had blocked an artery, but thankfully the surgeons managed to remove enough to restore blood flow.
Immediately afterwards, he was rushed to Leeds by ambulance for a second operation, though this was not successful. When he came out of theatre, Connor was in a coma and put onto the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
When Connor woke up, he initially had no feeling down one side but within a week got up and walked. The teenager is now back home in Hull and doing well, despite the after-effects of his illness. His family are backing a fundraising drive for the Sick Children’s Trust, which runs Eckersley House.
“To begin his recovery the way he did amazed everyone, but I truly believe that was because we were so close - it significantly helped him,” Sara added.
“Hospital for any person or family can be a very lonely place, and it makes a huge difference for a child to have their family close by.
“It helped motivate Connor, it made him smile to see his sister and he knew we were only across the road. It made a world of difference.”
Supporters of the Sick Children’s Trust are being asked to hold a Big Chocolate Tea to support families of seriously ill children. Jane McHale, Eckersley House manager, said: “Families can stay together in free ‘home from home’ accommodation, just minutes from their sick child’s bedside – easing some of the worries at an incredibly difficult time.
“If you can hold an event, your money will go towards supporting a family, keeping them together when it matters most.”
Log on to www.sickchildrenstrust.org.