Aimee Hemstock wanted to raise money for a charity that helped her when her daughter was in hospital
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A mum who has never been on a plane bravely leaped out of one in memory of her baby daughter who tragically died at 17 months old. Aimee Hemstock took part in a skydive to raise money for a charitythat supported her with a place to stay while daughter Lilley underwent treatment in hospital in 2016.
Little Lilley was diagnosed with a hole in her heart and a butterfly vertebra – a condition in which the lateral halves of the vertebrae fail to fuse together correctly – shortly after birth. When she struggled to swallow food, medical staff at Scunthorpe General Hospital took her for an X-ray which revealed she also had a rare condition called Trachea-Oesophageal Fistula (TOF).
This meant that Lilley's throat did not connect to her stomach properly and prevented food from passing to her stomach. When she needed emergency surgery to correct the condition, Lilley was transferred from Scunthorpe to Leeds Children's Hospital for the procedure.
For the four weeks that Lilley was in Leeds, Aimee was supported by The Sick Children's Trust and its 'Homes from Home' scheme, which gives parents of sick children a place to stay, free of charge to ensure they can stay by their child's side. Lilley then returned to Scunthorpe General Hospital for a further week before she was allowed to be brought home.
But at three months of age, Lilley was rushed to a specialist children's hospital in Sheffield when she began to struggle with her breathing. It was discovered that her internal organs were being pushed up and forward, compressing her lungs against her chest.
After undergoing surgery to correct this, Lilley spent another four weeks in hospital before returning home once again. Over the next year, Lilley continued to struggle with her breathing and swallowing, and stopped breathing completely nine times in total.
She was due to undergo another surgery to help with her breathing – but tragically, she passed away in 2017 before the procedure could be carried out. She was 17 months old.
Aimee decided to take on The Sick Children's Trust 40 Skydivers challenge in celebration of the charity's 40th anniversary and in memory of Lilley. She said she has never forgotten the support she received in her time of need.
She said: “Being able to stay at The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Homes from Home’ was such a massive help as without them I would have had to rely on my parents driving me to and from the hospitals. I wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time with Lilley, and when your child is critically ill where you’re going to stay is the last thing you’re thinking about.
“Thanks to this amazing charity I didn’t have to worry about any of that. I want to raise as much as possible so they can support more families like mine in the future. I’ll be forever grateful for the charity’s support and the time they gave me with Lilley.”
Speaking of the skydive, Aimee said: “It was an amazing experience and where I’ve never been in a plane before, my first time was beyond exciting! It was such a surreal experience, which I would definitely, 100% do again. I loved every minute and I’m so pleased with myself that I took on this challenge.
“It was definitely an experience I will never forget and I am so glad that I got the chance to do it for The Sick Children’s Trust to fundraise for them as I know it will help other families in the future and that is all that matters to me.”
Community Fundraising Officer at The Sick Children's Trust, Charlotte Coldrey, said: “Taking on a skydive is an incredibly brave way for anyone to raise money, but for someone like Aimee who has never been in a plane it is absolutely amazing! We’re celebrating a huge milestone at The Sick Children’s Trust this year and it’s fantastic to have 40 committed supporters who are willing to take on this challenge to raise money and mark this achievement.
"As a charity we rely on the generosity of our supporters and fundraisers like Aimee to make sure we can continue to be there supporting more families. While we do not charge families to stay in any of our ten ‘Homes from Home’, it does cost the charity £40 to support a family for one night.”
Donate to Aimee's JustGiving page here.