4 September 2012
“We can’t begin to express how much gratitude we have for the Royal Brompton team,” said mother of 12-year-old Pooja Deshpande, who received an Inspirational Child Award at last night’s WellChild awards ceremony, with patron HRH Prince Harry looking on.
Three years ago Pooja was critically ill fighting swine flu in the hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit. Yet, last night, Pooja personally collected her award, for the most inspirational young woman aged between 12 and 15.
Pooja, from Swiss Cottage, suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that causes progressive muscle weakness, alongside scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and serious respiratory problems. As a result, she has limited movement, requires frequent hospital stays and needs a substantial amount of treatment and medical care day and night. She receives treatment from a team of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists at Royal Brompton Hospital for her chest problems.
Of Pooja’s recovery from swine flu, her mother, Shetal, said: “It was touch and go then. Without the treatment and physiotherapy she received, she wouldn’t have come home.”
Pooja is treated regularly at the hospital and Shetal said: “The team at Royal Brompton led by Professor Andrew Bush and consultant physiotherapist Michelle Chatwin, have been absolutely excellent. They are always so accessible and responsive, which is so important to us. We can’t begin to express how much gratitude we have for what they have done and what they continue to do for her.”
“Before she started her treatment at Royal Brompton, there were times when we weren’t able to even think as far ahead as the next day. Now we can think about Pooja’s future.”
It takes Pooja two hours just to get ready for school, but her determination means she always completes a full school day, joining in with lessons, being part of the school choir and is learning her sixth language.
Professor Andrew Bush, consultant in paediatric respirology at Royal Brompton Hospital, said: “Pooja is a truly remarkable human being. She has a severe muscle disease which means she needs help with her breathing with a ventilator every night. She is wheelchair bound, and has severe and painful bone and joint problems. Despite this she lives life to the full, and enjoys school in particular; nothing, including her illnesses and her paediatricians are allowed to prevent this, or interfere with her schooling! We are so proud of her achievements.”
WellChild is the national charity for sick children. It helps seriously ill children, young people and their families throughout the UK through a programme of care, support and research.