Meet Hannah

1 November 2019

For kids in Hospital, the need for tests, scans and treatment is essential but they can be a scary experience. Enter the Child Life Therapy Team! Through play and distraction techniques, Child Life Therapists help kids to feel more comfortable and less anxious with hospital procedures. Read eight-year-old Hannah's story and find out the difference Child Life Therapy made to her experience in Hospital.  

When Hannah complained of blurry vision and severe headaches, her mum Sara took her to see the doctor and then ophthalmologists. But after running tests they advised that it was unlikely the cause was vision related and she would need an MRI to identify any abnormalities.

The MRI came back clear but the headaches continued, where Hannah would be blinded by severe migraines.

Little Hannah also needed a suite of other tests and treatments, including blood tests and IV antibiotics.

But simple procedures like these proved to be incredibly difficult for Hannah, who had the tiniest little veins that would collapse whenever doctors attempted to draw blood or insert a cannula. Worse still, often the times when doctors needed to cannulate was when Hannah was having a migraine; and she was in pain and temporarily losing her sight.

“It was very difficult for the most experienced of doctors to get a cannula in Hannah due to her small veins. Add to the mix, temporary blindness, pain, vomiting and loss of fluids due to migraines, which all heightened Hannah’s fear and made everything that much more traumatic,” said Sara.

To help Hannah cope in this situation, Amy from Child Life Therapy joined them. She would calm Hannah, always making sure that the little girl was aware of what was happening, while supporting her to face her fears. Amy distracted Hannah with fidget toys, iPad games and an array of techniques to help put her at ease. Amy also empowered Hannah with breathing exercises and strategies that she now uses in other situations, like before a big test at school.

“One of the hardest times in Hospital is always waiting for the scans to be done and anticipating what might happen. Amy always helped us all through this anxious time with her calm, reassuring manner and her endless supply of art and craft materials,” Sara said.

After one particularly challenging procedure even Hannah herself said, “I couldn’t have done this without Mummy and Amy!”

That’s why Hannah joined the Phil’ 24 Hour Fun-a-thon - Australia's largest student-led Philanthropy Initiative held by ARC at University of NSW to raise money for Child Life Therapy. Hannah and Sara spoke of their Hospital journey and Hannah slimed the Child Life Therapy team for donations. The 24 Hour fun-a-thon raised almost $120,000!

Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation raises funds for Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick , The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Bear Cottage, the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS NSW) and Kids Research