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Family's joy as seriously ill New Addington girl is allowed to go home


A SERIOUSLY ill little girl is to be allowed home from hospital for the first time in a year.

Melody Driscoll, 7, is set to spend 24 hours at home in New Addington, hopefully next Tuesday, as doctors look to reunite her permanently with her family.

She had an operation last October but was not discharged because health bosses feared her mother Karina and stepfather Nigel would not be able to cope with her complex needs.

But they reviewed her case after being inundated with letters from across the world supporting the family.

Melody will be allowed home a day at a time as Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) look to secure the professional support they need to fully discharge her from hospital.

There was double delight for the family as Karina gave birth to their fourth child – Logan – on Sunday.

It means they can look forward to spending Christmas together as a family after a difficult 12 months.

Karina, 32, said: "I'm so excited that Melody is coming home, even if it's just for 24 hours to begin with.

"Even though she is just one person it has felt like half our family has been missing because she has such an impact on our lives."

Melody has Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which causes severe physical and mental disability.

Her parents gave her 24-hour care before she went into hospital for an operation last year.

Doctors said she was ready to return home in February but, due to her complex needs, the family have been unable to secure the nursing support commissioners believe is necessary.

Karina and Nigel have undergone extensive medical training and argued they were fully able to care for Melody, as they did before she was admitted.

In fact on Wednesday, three days after giving birth, Karina was learning how to use the morphine and ketamine pump used to provide her daughter with pain relief.

A healthcare assistant agency has agreed in principle to provide someone to watch over Melody at home seven nights a week and Croydon CCG has approved funding.

A final assessment has to be completed before the care package can be put in place and she can come home permanently.

Nigel said: "We'll believe it when it happens. They've got our hopes up so many times before only to drop us back down.

"I feel more confident this time but I don't want to get my hopes up only for things to go wrong."

Karina said: "I'm happy, of course, but I'm also frustrated because we could have avoided all of this. We've been saying along we could cope and now they finally seem to agree."

Croydon CGG is understood to have been persuaded to look again at her case due to the mass of public support she received, including the 3,000 people who have joined the family's Facebook campaign.

Karina explained: "The commissioners said one of the reasons they agreed to meet was they had a pile of letters on their desk that people had sent in. They said it took them days to go through the letters and reply to all of them.

"It's so lovely to see how much support we've got.

"It was overwhelming to know so many people were on our side because it's always felt like everyone is against us.

"We've been fighting all the way to get her home. Every time we get told it's close to happening something changes and we're back to square one.

"To know there are so many people looking out for us, who see Melody as a little girl rather than a statistic, is so nice. I can't believe the support we've had."

The Driscolls will have a gathering of close family to celebrate Melody's return but, when she is settled, they plan to throw a party.

Not that she will be able to contain her excitement until then.

"Every time we remind her she is coming home she gives us a massive smile," said Karina.

"When we take her off the ward she waves her arms in the air and starts to giggle.

"She is so much happier."

On Melody's reaction to her new brother, Karina added: "She wasn't too impressed with him when she first saw him. I think it's because daddy was holding him and she gets jealous.

"There's probably going to be some jealousy problems when she comes home, but that's OK."

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, assistant clinical chairman at Croydon CCG, said: "All agencies involved in caring for Melody have continued to work hard to put in place everything that is needed to ensure she can be cared for safely at home.

"We are now very close to finalising an appropriate, multi-agency care plan which means that Melody should be able to start spending time at home.

"If Melody and her family are happy and coping well, the amount of time she spends at home can gradually build up over the coming weeks with the aim for her being at home full-time.

"The care Melody receives will be regularly reviewed to make sure it continues to be appropriate."

Family's joy as seriously ill New Addington girl is allowed to go home

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