Brady family's plea for help with bills as Aimee awaits heart transplant
A couple have launched a fundraising appeal as their daughter waits in hospital for an urgent heart transplant.
Aimee Brady (10) from Magherafelt has undergone open-heart surgery three times after being born with the defect double inlet left ventricle with pulmonary atresia. It was detected during her mum's 20-week scan.
She had the first op at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children just six days after being born in September 2008.
At 18 months she had a second operation, before travelling to Birmingham Children's Hospital for a third surgery at the age of five.
Aimee, a P6 pupil at Spires Integrated Primary School in her home town, was placed on the heart transplant list in January of this year.
Because she needs 24/7 monitoring and medication by specialist doctors and nurses until she finds a suitable donor, Aimee and her family have to stay in hospital.
The Clark Clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital has been home for the last 24 weeks and they will remain there until she has her transplant. Aimee's father Steven (36) had to leave his job as a roof insulator and the family now face an impossible financial burden due to travel costs and household bills.
Aimee's mum Valerie (36) says the family want to spend as much time as possible with her while she waits for her operation, which will take place at Newcastle's specialist Freeman Hospital.
The couple, who also have a son Taylor (14), set up a GoFundMe page with a £3,000 target.
"With such a long wait, things have just become impossible financially so we have no option but to ask for help," Valerie explained.
"Living at the hospital is costing an absolute fortune, but the staff have been so good to us and are now like family.
"We try to get back home one night a week to spend time with Taylor.
"It's tough for him as we can't be there for him all the time, but he has never known any different as Aimee has always been ill."
In 2015 Aimee was featured in a billboard campaign to raise awareness of congenital heart disease and the work of the Children's Heartbeat Trust.
And just last month she officially opened a new specialised unit aimed at helping children with heart defects.
Aimee cut the ribbon with Ireland rugby captain Rory Best at the Royal's Children's Hospital.
Valerie says every day is now a waiting game for the call to say Aimee is getting a new heart.
"We just feel so helpless as there's nothing we can do except keep Aimee comfortable and entertained," she said.
"She has good days and bad days, particularly when she sees so many other children coming and going having got their transplant calls, while she's still waiting and asking us when it will be her turn.
"Visits from family and friends help to keep her upbeat and help pass the time for her."