Nine-year-old Niamh and her family have thanked Wrexham Maelor Hospital staff in person for saving Niamh’s life after she became so unwell that her heart stopped, and she needed emergency surgery.
In October 2021 Niamh Williams had a sudden onset of uncontrollable vomiting and became increasingly unresponsive, and was taken to Wrexham Maelor Hospital by ambulance. She had a severe, sudden onset of pain in her stomach, which then started to swell. As doctors started to intubate her to perform a CT scan to find out more she went into cardiac arrest.
Niamh was resuscitated by the doctors and nurses in the emergency department before Mr Chris Battersby, Consultant Surgeon at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, performed emergency surgery, with the support of dozens of staff members, which saved her life.
Niamh’s mum, Sarah Williams, said: “Niamh went from being perfectly healthy to critically ill within minutes. Instinct told me something was seriously wrong. I thank my lucky stars we managed to get her to hospital in time”
“Everyone in Alder Hey Hospital was asking me who the surgeon from Wrexham Maelor was, because they saved her life.”
Niamh had a blood clot which had stopped the blood supply to her entire bowel, releasing toxins into her body and weakening her heart, causing it to stop.
During surgery Niamh had a large amount of her bowel removed. She was transferred to Alder Hey Hospital by the North West Transfer Service team – the regional service for transporting sick children to intensive care units around the region.
Upon arriving, Niamh’s family were told she had multi organ failure and to prepare for the worst. But her condition improved, and Niamh later had reconstructive bowel surgery, staying in Alder Hey for eight months to recover.
Sarah added: “What everyone did for Niamh was amazing. Dr Liz Richards, who Niamh is under the care of now, has been great, and I believe that some of the lead surgeons in Alder Hey have written to Mr Battersby to thank him for doing the surgery so quickly and that it had saved her life.”
Niamh’s condition improved and although she is able to eat and drink, she is now supported by Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), a liquid nutrition that is administered through a tube that goes directly into her veins.
Sarah added: “Niamh is the only child in Flintshire receiving the TPN treatment, and we were told that they guesstimate there’s only about a one in 14 million chance of something like this happening, it’s so rare there’s nothing they could really compare it too. She will come off TPN eventually, but it will take years of hard work.
“It’s hard to put into words just how poorly Niamh was when she arrived at hospital but thanks to the knowledge, dedication and professionalism of the Emergency Department team at Wrexham Maelor, Niamh’s life was saved. As a family we would like to give special thanks to Consultant in charge Dr Richards, Surgeon Mr Battersby and surgical teams, Mel the Consultant who initially attended to Niamh in resus and Carrie the nurse for not once leaving Niamh’s side.
“We would also like to thank the North West Transport Service team for safely transferring Niamh to Alder Hey Intensive Care Unit and to the ongoing teams from both Betsi Cadwaladr and Alder Hey that make it possible for us to manage Niamh’s condition at home. Niamh is thriving and always has a smile on her face. She’ll forever remember the people who saved her and knows just how special they are.”
Dr Richards, said: “As soon as Niamh arrived we knew we had to act fast. This condition is extremely rare and how she has recovered has been almost miraculous, she is a brave and strong little girl.
“There were also lots of staff from several different teams across the hospital including Theatres and Emergency who helped care for Niamh. We’d also like to thank the North West Transport Service, they gave so much support and help to Niamh, transferring her safely to Alder Hey that night.”
Mr Battersby said: “Niamh was incredibly unwell when she came into hospital, and the outcome could easily have been very different. The progress Niamh has made is fantastic, and I am delighted for Niamh and her family to see her looking so well, and so happy.”