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Nearly 4 years ago our son, Oscar, died very suddenly and unexpectedly. It took many months to get any understanding as to what had happened, and because it happened so quickly we were warned from the outset that we might never know. Eventually we were advised that, having being diagnosed with Osteomyelitis whilst in hospital (a rare but non fatal bone infection), his PICC line (used in order to administer intravenous antibiotics) became infected and so he had to be readmitted to hospital. During that time it is suspected that he contracted rotavirus (a common sickness bug amongst young children which is now vaccinated against) and that this manifested itself in encephalitis, a viral infection of the brain which took over his brain stem and killed him. Thinking of Oscar was founded to ensure that the time that we spent with him was just the first of many chapters in his name.
Why this challenge?
Over the past three years close to 200 people have completed the Blenheim Palace triathlon on behalf of Thinking of Oscar, raising over £150,000.
Blenheim Palace is on our doorstep. It’s a place we have spent, and continue to spend, a great deal of time in with all of our children and so it’s an appropriate place to us to raise funds. The triathlon is an ideal choice for Triathlon novices, it’s extremely well managed, the scenery is beautiful and the level of support amazing. We both completed our first triathlons here fundraising for Thinking of Oscar.
We are both taking part again this year alongside a lot of new squad members. The camaraderie of the squad is incredibly uplifting and, for many, it’s not an easy task. That’s symbolic of what living your life without your child is like. We have learned how to cope, on a level, by appreciating the small things in life, by trying really hard to be in the present and most importantly by ploughing our energy into the charity
that we have founded in his name. But Oscar remains constantly on our minds and unexpected images or experiences still knock us frequently. So the idea of completing a challenge which is so much outside of many people’s comfort zones aligns to the values of the charity.
What has Thinking of Oscar achieved so far?
The objective of Thinking of Oscar is to improve the experiences of children and their families whilst in hospital care. The types of projects that we are interested in supporting are those which are over and above anything that the NHS would deliver. We are excited by the potential that innovation can offer to paediatric healthcare and we are constantly evaluating new potential projects. One of the most successful delivered so far has been vein finder devices. These small handheld units
illuminate the veins in young children which makes it much easier for the professionals to take blood samples and insert cannula’s and reduces the stress and discomfort of the experience for the child significantly.
"As a clinician I have used the VeinFinder in Oxford on multiple occasions to deal with children that have seemed almost impossible to gain IV access. The most recent of these was on a night shift with a 2 year old patient that had a complex congenital syndrome and multiple previous operations which had required IV access. Their cannula had stopped working and they needed fluids and antibiotics overnight
before an important surgical procedure. With an unsuccessful initial attempt and review by myself and another colleague we could not identify an area for access, after getting the VeinFinder we were successful on the next attempt. I am very thankful toThinking Of Oscar for providing these to help in this and other such difficult circumstances."
David Fawkner-Corbett MBChB
MPhil MRCS, Academic Clinical Fellow in Paediatric Surgery, Oxford University Hospital Trust
What will my money be spent on?
Here’s a brief description about some of the projects we are currently evaluating to give you a flavour of how you could be helping children and their families by donating to Thinking of Oscar:
* Super Hero packs for children who need intravenous drugs. So that they feel that this treatment is their superpower. Comes complete with shield for over the cannula and a super hero cape - c. £35
* Training programmes and simulations to help staff responding to continue to think strategically and clearly in high pressure situations. Technology and programmes to enable earlier detection of specific conditions. c. £2,000
* Additional Vein Finders for Paediatric Units across the country - c. £3,500
* An interactive floor projector to entertain, distract and de-stress children in the hospital environment. They can play a game of virtual football, kick virtual leaves to reveal an image underneath and play individually and together - c. £8,000.
* An app to give children an idea of what to expect when they come into hospital, provide simple explanations of some conditions and procedures, remind them of anything relevant once they have been discharged. It could also bridge communication between parents and the hospital, facilitating a better overall understanding of the child and their condition - c. £10,000
We evaluate potential projects based upon a number of factors but one of the most important of those is how replicable it is in order that we can implement the same project across multiple UK Children’s hospitals.
Please visit www.thinkingofoscar.com to keep an eye on our progress and the status of the projects we fund.
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