AS DOTING mum Holly Matthewman cradles daughter Grace, she knows it’s not going to be an easy Christmas.
Brave little Grace has already had two operations on her bowel despite being just five weeks old, and will have another one in the New Year.
She’s spent her whole life in hospital and sadly, she’ll also be spending Christmas Day there too.
It’s a difficult time for mum Holly, 21, who has been supported by the charity Bliss through the process.
She said: “It’s nice to talk to someone who knows what you’re going through, and I can get all of the feelings and emotions out.”
Grace is just one of the dozens of brave young babies that will be staying at Leeds General Infirmary at Christmas.
Little Lilly Ann Gentle weighed just one pound 11 ounces when she arrived more than three months prematurely.
She’s spent the past 17 weeks in hospital and is surrounded by machines checking her breathing and heartrate.
Dad Arthur, from Leeds, said: “She’s getting there slowly but surely, and she weighs six pounds now. We’re going to get a little stocking to put above her cot for Christmas.”
In a bid to bring some festive cheer to the hospital, parents and youngsters at the neo-natal unit had a special visit from Santa yesterday.
Father Christmas handed out gifts with the Bliss charity, which offers a range of free services to help support parents of premature and sick babies.
Saoirse Trowers, 28, is also spending Christmas at the hospital with baby Violet Ley. She said: “We’ll be here for Christmas but hopefully she will be home in time for the New Year.”
Over at the Children’s Hospital, young Star Wars fans were also in for a festive treat as Darth Vader and stormtroopers turned up to wish them a happy Christmas. Not-for-profit organisation Sentinel Squad UK went around ward by ward to hand out presents to children.
Meanwhile staff from Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust at Parkside Community Health Centre in Beeston handed out 100 Christmas hampers to underprivileged families in south Leeds.