One school girl’s struggle with Wolff-Parkinson-White has inspired fundraising of over £5,000 for two local charities, with the help of colleagues at Newcastle College.
Wolff-Parkinson White is a condition which causes the heart to beat abnormally fast for long periods, caused by an extra electrical signal in the heart and can produce symptoms including fainting, palpitations and chest pain.
Mia Mitchelson was just 7 when she fell ill at school and was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, where her parents were given the news that she was unconscious.
After being transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, Mia was referred to a cardiologist and spent six days in hospital before being discharged to await treatment at the Freeman Hospital for a catheter ablation – a procedure to close the additional electrical pathway in her heart which was suspected to be causing problems.
When the procedure wasn’t successful, a loop recorder was fitted, which will record ECG information every day for three years, to ensure that any unusual activity or changes in Mia’s heart condition do not go undetected.
While Mia has had no further episodes and has been given the advice to continue living her normal life, she and her family have still had to contend with regular check-ups and some short term behavioural changes.
The incredible care that Mia received from the QE, RVI and the Freeman inspired mum Jen and Dad Gary to raise funds and give back to the team and the hospital resources.
Jen says, “The support the hospital staff gave us made all the difference. Unless you’ve been in that situation you won’t understand what it’s like and how the smallest things can have an impact.
“They really took care of Mia in ways I couldn’t believe and nothing was too much trouble for them. It is truly a calling and that is why we wanted to do something to give back to them.”
After Mia was released from hospital, Jen came up with the idea of the ‘Tayside Challenge’, climbing one of Scotland’s highest mountains, Ben Lawers and it went ahead in June 2018, with the added bonus of Mia joining her fundraising team for the event.
While organising and fundraising for the climb, Jen enlisted the help of colleagues at Newcastle College to raise even more funds, hosting a charity disco event, jewellery parties, bake sales and an afternoon tea among other activities. Commercial Operation’s Manager for the College, Steve Gray, also donated a Coca-Cola Charitable Donation to the cause, giving it a huge boost.
The total raised from Jen’s efforts was £5,890, split equally between Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) and the Great North Children’s Hospital.
Jen says, “The climb was perfect, especially as Mia was well enough to join us and although it was really hard work, it was all worth it in the end.
“It’s been an extremely busy year and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my colleagues and the management at Newcastle College, who have all been incredibly supportive.
“Mia will receive indefinite ongoing care, with the possibility of further treatment when she’s older. Gary and I, along with our families and friends, will continue to raise funds for the two charities - we couldn’t be more grateful to them both.”