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Dalek joins up with toys to exterminate hospital blues
SICK children waiting to see their doctor have an army of new toys to play with, thanks to generous donations to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
A wish list of new toys to distract youngsters before and after surgery and other appointments was drawn up in April by Joanne Pinney, senior play specialist at the Headington hospital.
Five months later, the children’s waiting area of the specialist surgery outpatient department is now home to more than 100 new toys after parents answered her call.
Ms Pinney said: “A lot of children can be quite anxious, but you can see the difference now we have more toys – they are a lot happier by the time they go into their appointment.
“It is definitely better they are not just waiting in their parent’s lap or watching TV. Before, whether the child was 15 months or five years old all they had was a playhouse.
“Now it makes the experience more positive if they need to come back.”
A soft play area, child-sized play kitchen, ride-on cars train sets, puzzles, games, books, and games consoles were among the gifts.
The department sees around 100 children a week.
The hospital’s charitable funds department also gave £1,000 to buy cupboards to store the toys and child-sized tables and chairs for children to use.
When Claire Willis spotted the wish list for new toys written on a white board in the waiting room she passed the message on to friends and family. The donations which came back filled a van-full of toys which Mrs Willis dropped off for the department in June.
The 33-year-old from Reading knows exactly how valuable the simple distraction of toys can be, having had two children operated on at the hospital.
Of Carl and Claire Willis’ three children – Jack, seven, Teddy, four, and Albie, one — two were born with a rare abnormality with their skull. Teddy and Albie’s craniums were both fused at birth, meaning there was no room for their brain to grow which could have caused brain damage in the future.
Both the boys had craniofacial surgery at the age of one.
Mrs Willis said: “It is such an overwhelming time. But having things like toys distracting the children while you are listening to the consultant is so important.
“When Teddy had his surgery he was left with a horrendous scar. And when his older brother Jack saw it he developed such a fear of hospitals that next time we visited he fainted on the hospital floor.
“So making it a happy and positive environment is completely invaluable. For us to get Jack back to the John Radcliffe we had to coax him there with the toys. “That was the only thing that got him there without collapsing on the floor.”
A life-sized Dalek from the Doctor Who TV series, Lego, puzzles and books were among the toys.
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