Initiative offers vital support for parents

Carren Bell with baby Lagan
Carren Bell with baby Lagan

WIGAN Infirmary has teamed up with a national charity to help provide vital support to parents of under-fives who are diagnosed with heart defects or feeding difficulties.

Founded by Carren Bell and partner Barry Grant, Lagan’s Foundation was created following the death of their daughter Lagan at just 15 weeks old.

As a child born with congential heart defects, Lagan was in and out of hospital, receiving her treatment at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

As her condition deteriorated, Lagan suffered from a single ventricular heart, or “half a working heart” and required continuous care and feeding.

Her mother, Carren Bell, set up the charity after Lagan’s death in order to help families who are dealing with similar difficulties.

The Bolton 35-year-old said: “Lagan’s Foundation provides the vital support that I wish I had when Lagan was born. When I was caring for Lagan I was exhausted. Sometimes it would take an hour and a half to feed her, with half an hour break before starting again. I just thought, is this our lives now?

Our charity trains normal, everyday people to be able to go into a home, even if it is just for two hours a week, and be an extra pair of eyes, ears and hands for parents who are giving 24 hour care to their poorly child

Carren Bell

“Our charity trains normal, everyday people to be able to go into a home, even if it is just for two hours a week, and be an extra pair of eyes, ears and hands for parents who are giving 24 hour care to their poorly child.

“By giving parents this little bit of support, it can make a whole world of difference. Any amount of time in which a family can get some light relief is absolute gold dust.”

The charity’s unique approach also gives parents, and medical professionals, a second opinion, which Carren believes is crucial to making more accurate diagnoses.

“I knew something wasn’t right with Lagan,” she said, “but because the medical staff didn’t see her as often as I did, they didn’t notice the change in her.

“If we had had someone with us, to offer that second opinion and to tell the doctors that something wasn’t right, then maybe Lagan would still be with us today.”

Following a meeting with Dr Martin Farrier, consultant paediatrician at Wigan Infirmary, the foundation will now receive referrals of Wigan families who are eligible to benefit from their services.

Carren said: “Wigan Infirmary have been the most pro-active in joining up with the charity. Dr Farrier’s way of thinking is remarkable, by believing, like us that the parents know their children best, he understands how we can strive to make a difference in cases like these across Wigan borough.”

Dr Farrier said: “We long valued the role of expert parents. Lagan’s Foundation have sought ways to help this role flourish. We are delighted that they chose to work with us. We hope that with their help we will be able to provide better support to families at the most difficult of times.”

Fiona Murphy, assistant director of Nursing at Wigan Infirmary, is now to take up the role of the charity’s NHS Champion at Wigan, where she will raise awareness on behalf of Lagan’s Foundation.