How Sheffield ‘home from home’ kept Millie’s family together

Millie bizzle enjoying the sunshine with dad Neil and brother Toby as she recovers from her illness
Millie bizzle enjoying the sunshine with dad Neil and brother Toby as she recovers from her illness

Millie Bizzell, from Stannington, spent a month in intensive care at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital when a serious infection caused the failure of all her organs at the age of just 14 months. Her heart stopped five times during the first 12 hours after she was admitted.

She was initially admitted with pneumonia and a collapsed lung but her breathing failed and she had to be on a ventilator for three weeks.

Millie’s mum, Vanessa, said: “Due to the unstable nature of Millie’s condition, we couldn’t bear to be more than a few minutes away and didn’t want to leave her bedside.

“Finding somewhere to stay was the last thing on our minds. All we could think about was Millie and staying as close to her as possible.

“Thankfully, one of the nurses mentioned Treetop House and the relief of knowing that we didn’t have to leave Millie was enormous.

“Treetop House became our home and refuge for those few weeks. I felt safe knowing I was minutes away from Millie’s bedside. I could sleep in a real bed and be ready for the emotional demands of the next day.

“It was a hugely traumatic experience and I felt that I had to stay strong for Millie, so I tried very hard not to be visibly upset around her.

“Having a private space at Treetop House meant that I could cry when no one else was around and that was such a great emotional outlet.

“Most importantly for us, the house kept our family together. Our eldest child, Toby, could stay with us which helped him hugely, since he had been so upset that his family just disappeared one night.

“I also think our continual presence helped Millie recover once she was awake and I believe that being able to appear within minutes whenever critical treatment had to happen in the middle of the night helped too.

“It was also very helpful to be around other families in similar circumstances because when something as awful as this happens, no-one knows what to say to you and it can be painful to talk at times.

“Everyone at Treetop House had a different story to tell and I took a lot of strength from the hope that everybody had.

“Thankfully, Millie is now so much better and returning to the bright and happy child we had before this happened. She is walking properly and doing really well.

“Millie is our miracle and, although I know we have a long road ahead of us, we know we couldn’t have done it all without the support of The Sick Children’s Trust.’’