A mum whose 12-year-old daughter is unlikely to live past her teenage years is raising awareness of her story as part of this year’s Christmas appeal.

Maria Tottman wants the public to dig deep and make donations to Haven House during the festive period in order to support life-limited children and their families. 

Maria first began receiving support from Haven House for her daughter, Isabella, when she was just 11 months old. Isabella was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome (a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart) and was incredibly ill.  

Her mum was told it would be a miracle if Isabella survived the night. In the first few months of her life her kidneys failed and her liver stopped functioning. She also had hydrocephalus – a build up of fluid in the brain – and had to have emergency surgery on Christmas Eve to put a shunt in to drain the extra fluid. 

The hydrocephalus crushed the brain against her skull causing damage to the brain and optic nerves. Over the years, she has had countless operations and trips to hospital.

Christmas is a very special time for Isabella and Maria. Although Isabella turns 13 this month, doctors say she is unlikely to live past her teenage years. While she is aware that she is likely to go to heaven when she is young, Isabella doesn’t really understand what it means as her learning and mental capacity is that of about a five-year-old.

It has been really hard for Maria to accept that her beautiful girl is terminally ill. With no family or friends to turn to, it was Haven House in Woodford Green who gave Maria a life-line when she needed it the most.  She said: "When I first started coming to the hospice, the nurses made me realise that I didn’t have to do this on my own any more. They really were the only support I had and they quickly became an extension to my family."

Maria concludes: "Without Haven House I’m not sure we would have made it this far. The amazing staff have helped us through some very tough periods and with their help, I have found the strength to give Isabella the best possible life for however long that may be. I know that when the time comes to say goodbye, Haven House will be there to support the whole family as long as we need it. You cannot overestimate how much that means to me." 

How your donation could help:

• £23 could pay for a child to have a one-hour session in the interactive sensory room

• £38 could pay for 90 minutes of  personal counselling by a qualified counsellor

• £59 could pay for a child attending a one hour group music therapy session

• £122 could pay for 10 hours of care for a deceased child in our Butterfly Suite

• £221 could pay for seven hours of support to families from our Bereavement Sister

To read more about Isabella and how Haven House supports her and her family, and to make a donation, call 020 8498 5841 or visit our JustGiving page.