True North: The Children’s Hospice
Monday, 3rd March 2014
BBC One Northern Ireland, 10.35pm
There can be few things more devastating than being told your child has a ‘life limited’ disease. It happened to Siobhan and Colin Ball and they tell their story in The Children’s Hospice on Monday evening. Their five year old son was born with Cystic Hygroma which caused a malformation of the lymphatic system. An artificial airway breaths for him and he is fed through a tube in his stomach, yet daily life goes on including regular trips to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for treatment together with care and comfort, and also fun, offered at the Hospice.
Such a diagnosis brings with it a big change for parents and family, also brothers and sisters, who all draw on the professional caring by the staff at this local charity that in turn relies on support from the public; on the programme we see how the organisation works from the inside, a very special glimpse behind the scenes.
With more than 1,300 children and young people living with life limiting, or life threatening, conditions in Northern Ireland it’s obvious how important this charity is to so many. It offers a sanctuary for the young people and peace of mind for parents and family who use this service, the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland. a service that offers care for their children as they themselves take a much needed short break from their responsibilities. For them there’s much to catch up on, and time needed to rest and attend to other family matters so what the Children’s Hospice provides is invaluable.
On this remarkable programme we spend a weekend with Natasha who is six and has a rare condition which causes breathing and stomach problems as well as recurrent seizures, also three year old Oisin McConnell who makes his first visit. In the documentary Janine Beattie talks of her last days spent with her son Jordan, who passed away at 14 years of age, and of the wonderful support and love the family shared with the staff leaving them with moments they would cherish forever.
The producer Edel O’Mahony from Waddell Media has said that in the making of the programme it was humbling to witness the resilience and courage of the families and staff. “I think this documentary illustrates the strength of the human spirit when it comes to looking after the people we love and that a little help can go a long, long way.”