Our first post is about the inspiration behind a children’s hospital music therapy charity which stemmed from one young boys experience, our hero George…
George was diagnosed with leukaemia at just 22 months old in November 2014, aged just 22 months old. During his near 5-year battle, he relapsed a devastating 4 times and after having all the treatment there was available including high dose chemotherapy, total body and cranial radiotherapy, bone marrow transplant and revolutionary CAR T cell therapy, George passed away at home in August 2019, surrounded by his family.
George adored music, nature, dressing up and had a huge zest for life and an infectious smile and character. The charity was inspired by George’s experience with music therapy during intensive treatment at Bristol Children’s Hospital. After relapsing for the first time, George was sent to Bristol, the regional bone marrow transplant centre, 2 hours away from home in Portsmouth. Part of the process for bone marrow transplant is being placed into strict isolation, where only parents and hospital staff are allowed in the air filtered room. This meant George was unable to see his little sister and best friend Bella. The treatment to for transplant made George very unwell with lots of horrible side effects and emotionally George found being shut in a room very hard to deal with. He was also unable to bring his much-loved fancy dress in with him as it couldn’t be boil washed!
The transplant ward at the hospital we lucky to have weekly music therapy sessions (provided by the hospital charity, the Grand Appeal) for the children to help them deal with the fears and anxieties such gruelling and isolating treatment brought. Music therapy was the highlight of George’s week and gave a then 4-year-old George a way to express his frustrations and fears of being in isolation in hospital without having to put them into words, which at the time with a speech delay due to intensive treatment from a young age, he was unable to do.
Music therapy isn’t widely available in NHS hospitals. In fact, a lot of children’s departments in local hospitals do not always have access to any emotional or psychological support for children outside often amazing but over stretched play teams. George’s family set up the charity to bring music therapy these hospitals and to children, many of which have serious and/or life limiting illnesses / disabilities and like George, spend too much of their childhood in hospital.