" Seeing my girls together at Claire House means the world to me "
Most siblings fight like cat and dog but not my girls. Jasmine, 14, and Zara, five, are the best of friends because they know they have to make the most of each minute together. You see, Jasmine has a rare condition which means every day could be her last.
So when I see my girls together at Claire House – doing treasure hunts, baking and painting, or splashing around in the swimming pool together, it means the world to me. The hospice has kept our whole family going, and encouraged an unbreakable bond between Zara and Jasmine.
Jasmine was five days old when she was diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome, a genetic condition which meant her heart was back to front and her lungs were so diseased she’d need to be on a ventilator, a breathing machine for the rest of her life. She was constantly in hospital and there were countless times when she nearly didn’t make it.
But our Jasmine defied the odds and when we brought her home we vowed to give her the best life we could. That didn’t stop it being hard though. Every few hours, Jasmine was fed by a tube in her stomach, needed to have her oxygen checked, her lungs cleared of mucous, and regular medication. She also needed a wheelchair as her legs were too weak.
However, as time wore on, Jasmine started eating, speaking, reading and writing. Her personality shone through as she acquired a love of Disney princesses, pasta and pigs!
We started going to Claire House as a family when Jasmine was two after we were referred through our local hospital. We were allocated 21 nights of respite and, though hesitant at first, it was clear that Jasmine loved going. While we had a much-needed break, reassured that a nurse was on hand if Jasmine fell ill, she made friends with the other children, went on trips to Chester Zoo or did arts and crafts.
When Zara came along, we were conscious of how hard it was for her too, coping with a poorly big sister. She never complained and held Jasmine’s hand when she was ill. But when Jasmine was at Claire House, we made time for Zara, taking her trampolining or to the beach. And every now and again, we’d all stay at Claire House as a family.
We were amazed at how the staff always went the extra mile, everything from getting in the girls’ favourite Monster Munch to helping Zara write a diary to share with her classmates. On one occasion when we had to take Jasmine to hospital, we came back and found the staff had baked the girls a cake each and made them goody bags!
Jasmine and our family has been going to Claire House for 12 years now. We’re so grateful to all the generous donors who make this possible. You’re not just helping our brave daughters - but the whole family.