Oliver was born with Chronic Kidney Disease in August 2009, and had to live for the first 7 years with a feeding tube, managing the disease with regular monitoring and medication. In April 2017, it was decided a kidney transplant couldn’t be put off any longer, and his mum Jane donated one of her kidneys to him.
Mum Jane told us, “No one tells you how stressful it will be after the transplant. You’re working towards it as your goal, but the body takes such a long time to recuperate afterwards. The first year after was really tough.” This is when we met Oliver. Six months after the operation, Oliver was really low. He was missing out on parties and school, and feeling sad. Mum Jane talked to a nurse at GOSH and she told her how Spread a Smile might be able to help.
We took Oliver and his family to see Aladdin in September 2017. It was the first outing they had been able to have as a whole family. Before the transplant Oliver’s feeding tube had meant it was very difficult to organise anything around his feeds, which happened five times a day, every three hours. Then after the operation they were struggling to get back on their feet again with so much time in hospital, and both Jane and Oliver recovering from the surgery. Oliver’s sister Lottie was also affected as inevitably there was less time to spend with her, and she frequently had to be looked after by the wider family.
Jane said, “The trip to Aladdin came at such a crucial time for Oliver, as he was feeling so low. We had so much fun! You don’t expect treats – the whole experience of pizza, magicians and balloons. It was like a party! It was also amazing to meet the cast after too – us adults got particularly excited about that! The kids are now spoiled for the theatre – they think there should always be pizza and a party!”
We asked Oliver about the experience and he said it made him feel “really alive”.
We also invited the whole family to last year’s end of year Party. Jane described it as “The best thing I’d ever been to. The generosity of everyone was overwhelming. Lottie and I had our hair curled, which was such a treat. The quality of the party blew our minds!”
Oliver told us, “I loved playing with all the Interactive games – especially the VR experience. The party was really fun – I felt really special!”