My boy, 6, learned to walk again following brain operation after kind nurses taught him to play virtual football

ELLIOT Jay Harridge has learned to walk again – thanks to kicking around a virtual football.

The six-year-old was born with a rare genetic disorder and lost the use of his right leg after undergoing complex brain surgery in February this year.


Nurses used projections of a football on the floor and encouraged Elliot to kick it to get him walking again. 

In his short life, Elliot has endured three brain surgeries, 11 lung aspirations, pancreatitis, sepsis, Covid and pneumonia.

Your donations to our Christmas appeal, Joy to the Ward, will provide children like Elliot, who have poor immune systems, with “SafeSpaces” in hospitals. 

These are special areas, filled with sensory equipment and light projections, which help children with mental health issues or additional needs feel safe, calm and relazed. 

For Elliot, who has a compromised immune system, it also keeps him protected from other patients. 

There is still time to donate, to raise money for NHS Charities Together, which provides vital equipment, specialist support and staff and much more to poorly children across the UK. 

And remember, The Sun promises to DOUBLE your donations up to £20,000. 

Elliot’s mum, Victoria, 31, from Welwyn Garden City, Herts., said: “Elliot doesn’t have an immune system so he can’t be in a waiting room with other patients. 

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“The SafeSpace at The Lister hospital, Stevenage, where Elliot has his appointments, is being finished at the moment.

“It will be life-changing for him because it will have sensory areas, lights and relaxing zones so he can stay calm while he waits to be seen. 

“Donations to Joy to the Ward could build more rooms like this in hospitals across the country to help other children”

Elliot was born six weeks premature, weighing just 3lbs. He had his first brain surgery in February 2019.

HOW TO GIVE

The Sun’s Joy To The Ward appeal is raising money for NHS Charities Together, the national, independent charity supporting more than 230 NHS charities across the UK.

Your donations will help support children and families going through the toughest times imaginable, providing specialist equipment and services along with toys, play- workers, parents’ accommodation and much more.

DONATE ONLINE: Scan the QR code above with your phone camera to go straight through to our donation page or visitnhscharitiestogether.givesafely.org/joy.

DONATE BY TEXT: Text JOY to 70607 to donate £10 to NHS Charities Together. You’ll be charged £10, plus one message at your standard network rate. NHS Charities Together will receive 100% of your donation.

DONATE BY POST: Use the coupon on the left.

  • NHS Charities Together is the trading name of the Association of NHS Charities. Registered Charity No 1186569 (England & Wales) and SC050716 (Scotland). Company No 12325259

His many complex medical needs means the children’s Bluebell Ward has become his second home. 

Victoria, who is also mum to Ebony, 13, and Esmae, eight, said: “It’s where he took his first steps as a toddler. He’s spent most of his life in hospital and been in more than he’s been at home. 

“He’s missed birthdays, Christmases, New Years, Halloweens. It’s like a rollercoaster that hasn’t stopped since he was born.

“The minute you think you might be on an even keel for a while something else happens.”

He’s missed birthdays, Christmases, New Years, Halloweens. It’s like a rollercoaster that hasn’t stopped since he was born

A side effect of the second brain surgery and four lumbar punctures meant he lost the use of his right leg. 

Victoria said: “The nurses on the ward used projectors, initially on the end of his bed, to try and get his bad leg moving.

“They’d project footballs and encourage him to kick them. Then when he was a bit more stable and could come out of bed, they projected balls on the floor to encourage him to take his first steps again.”

Help for whole family

Elliot’s sisters have also received young carers’ support funded by NHS charities.

Victoria says the family’s journey without kind donations would have been very different. 

She said: “It’s not just about Elliot and the SafeSpace that’s being built, it’s help for us as parents, as well as for Ebony and Esmae. 

“It’s funding someone to teach me how to care for Elliot at home so we can be a family and experience some normality, it’s projectors that helped him walk again, it’s young carer support for the girls.

“For children like Elliot who spend so much time in hospital, it’s the extras that make the stays so much easier. The donations to Joy to the Ward mean so much to families like ours, we can’t thank everyone enough.”

Longterm recovery

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “Seeing SafeSpace sensory equipment in action, and the amazingly positive effect it can have on patients like Elliot, is wonderful. We are so pleased to see he’s made such an astounding recovery so far.

“Often, life-changing equipment like this is only possible with charity donations.

"And with pressures on NHS services now critical once again, your support is more important than ever.

"Working with our network of over 230 NHS charities, NHS Charities Together get your donations to where they are needed most in the UK.

"Not just at Christmas but all year round, we’re funding essential mental health support for exhausted staff and volunteers, community projects that support the NHS’ long-term recovery, and invaluable volunteer training to help take pressure off overstretched ambulance services.

"Together, we can make the NHS go further for everyone – including young patients like Elliot.”



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