When Isabella was born her mum, Maria, was told it would be a miracle if she survived the night.

She was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome (a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart) and was incredibly ill.

Over 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.

Isabella recently turned 14. However, 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, she 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. However, she has had the support of Haven House Children’s Hospice since Isabella was 11 months old. With no family or friends to turn to, it was Haven House who gave Maria a life-line when she needed it the most. Maria says,

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.

When Isabella is having respite at Haven House it enables Maria to recharge her batteries and spend some quality time with her three other children. Isabella loves her time at Haven House; her favourite thing to do is music therapy where she gets to sing her favourite songs. She also loves the sensory room and trampoline in the garden.

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.

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