Dundee girl Lacey, 5, has 100th operation to treat condition

Most parents won’t have to endure their children being put under general anaesthetic when they are just babies even once.

However, little Lacey Curran, who turned five in September, had her first operation when she was just two days old — and has since had another 99 procedures to treat a condition which affects her bowel.

Her mum Jennifer Wilson, 34, recently gave up full-time work because the schedule of Lacey’s treatment meant she couldn’t carry on her role as a healthcare assistant at Ninewells Hospital.

Lacey was recently given the chance to be a surgeon for the day — dressing up like Dr Amanda McCabe, who has carried out all of her 100 specialist procedures. Dr McCabe has treated Lacey both in the Tayside Children’s Hospital (TCH) in Ninewells and at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

‘Having kids’ operating theatre closer would’ve made Lacey’s 60 ops much less traumatic’

Jennifer, who lives with Lacey in Fintry, said: “Lacey loves dressing up and has lots of different uniforms. Because she’s in hospital so much she’s done a bit of role-play with the nurses and knows a lot about what they do.

“If a doctor comes over with a stethoscope she’ll know straight away to lift her top up, that kind of thing.

“She is a lot more comfortable and has a good relationship with the doctors but it was the first time she had dressed up in the ward.

“The surgeon’s outfit was the latest one she got so I arranged with the staff and she was allowed to wear it as a surprise. She was really chuffed.”

Lacey Curran with dad Stewart Curran and mum Jennifer Wilson

As she gets older, some of Lacey’s treatment can be performed without a general anaesthetic, or when she is at home with Jennifer or at her dad Stewart’s house, meaning she has to be anesthetised for fewer operations.

Jennifer said: “It’s obviously been upsetting and stressful.

“She’s been going to hospital every four to six weeks for the past two or three years, which is a lot for a wee girl. The first few times were really scary.

“But it’s made her very brave for her age. And when she goes now, she is used to it so I think she kind of enjoys it.

“She’s always calm and thinks it’s quite fun, whereas when she was younger it was quite upsetting for her.

“I’m now a lot calmer when she goes into surgery but there’s still always that thought in the back of your mind, ‘what if something happens?’.”

Lacey with Dundee United’s Lewis Toshney during the club’s visit to Ninewells Hospital last year

Jennifer is a big supporter of the Archie Foundation and the charity’s work to raise £2 million for a twin operating theatre in Tayside Children’s Hospital.

The fundraising effort included the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail in Dundee last year.

Jennifer said: “Although Lacey will always have to go to Edinburgh for any overnight stays for her condition, when she’s a ‘day case’ she goes to Ninewells. But some children are treated in theatre at Ninewells.

“If there was another theatre then more patients could be seen and waiting times would drop. Some procedures are carried out in a different part of the hospital.

“When your child has been to theatre you just want them straight back so it would make the whole experience a lot less stressful.

“And usually the children are crying too, so it makes that a lot easier if their parents are as close as possible.

“Having spent so much time in the hospital, we’re all excited to see what it’s like when it’s finally built.”

MOST parents won’t have to endure their children being put under general anaesthetic when they are just babies even once.

However, little Lacey Curran, who turned five in September, had her first operation when she was just two days old — and has since had another 99 procedures to treat a condition which affects her bowel.

Her mum Jennifer Wilson, 34, recently gave up full-time work because the schedule of Lacey’s treatment meant she couldn’t carry on her role as a healthcare assistant at Ninewells Hospital.

Lacey was recently given the chance to be a surgeon for the day — dressing up like Dr Amanda McCabe, who has carried out all of her 100 specialist procedures. Dr McCabe has treated Lacey both in the Tayside Children’s Hospital (TCH) in Ninewells and at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

Jennifer, who lives with Lacey in Fintry, said: “Lacey loves dressing up and has lots of different uniforms. Because she’s in hospital so much she’s done a bit of role-play with the nurses and knows a lot about what they do.

“If a doctor comes over with a stethoscope she’ll know straight away to lift her top up, that kind of thing.

“She is a lot more comfortable and has a good relationship with the doctors but it was the first time she had dressed up in the ward. The surgeon’s outfit was the latest one she got so I arranged with the staff and she was allowed to wear it as a surprise. She was really chuffed.”

As she gets older, some of Lacey’s treatment can be performed without a general anaesthetic, or when she is at home with Jennifer or at her dad Stewart’s house, meaning she has to be anesthetised for fewer operations.

Jennifer said: “It’s obviously been upsetting and stressful. She’s been going to hospital every four to six weeks for the past two or three years, which is a lot for a wee girl. The first few times were really scary.

“But it’s made her very brave for her age. And when she goes now, she is used to it so I think she kind of enjoys it.

“She’s always calm and thinks it’s quite fun, whereas when she was younger it was quite upsetting for her.

“I’m a lot calmer when she goes into surgery but there’s still always that thought in the back of your mind, ‘what if something happens?’.”

Jennifer is a big supporter of the Archie Foundation and the charity’s work to raise £2 million for a twin operating theatre in Tayside Children’s Hospital.

The fundraising effort included the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail in Dundee last year.

Jennifer said: “Although Lacey will always have to go to Edinburgh for any overnight stays for her condition, when she’s a ‘day case’ she goes to Ninewells. But some children are treated in theatre at Ninewells.

“If there was another theatre then more patients could be seen and waiting times would drop. Some procedures are carried out in a different part of the hospital.

“When your child has been to theatre you just want them straight back so it would make the whole experience a lot less stressful. And usually the children are crying too, so it makes that a lot easier if their parents are as close as possible.

“Having spent so much time in the hospital, we’re all excited to see what it’s like when it’s finally built.”

For more information about the Archie Foundation, or to donate, visit archietayside.org.uk.

‘Having kids’ operating theatre closer would’ve made Lacey’s 60 ops much less traumatic’

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