A SPECIALLY adapted car is all that stands between a little girl and returning home from hospital.
Seriously ill Melody Driscoll, 7, has been spending short periods of time with her family in New Addington after a year on a children's ward.
Those visits followed a campaign by her parents, Karina and Nigel, who want to be discharged so they can have her back permanently.
To do that, they need an accessible vehicle which meets her complex needs, but they do not qualify for financial support because of the length of her hospital stay.
Melody's family have instead set up an online appeal in hope of raising £10,000 to put toward a second-hand car which fits the bill.
"This is the only hurdle left before we can bring our daughter home," Karina, 32, told the Advertiser.
Melody has Rett syndrome, a rare genetic condition which causes severe mental and physical disability. The car would require seven seats, wheelchair access, power points, privacy glass, a ramp and dual heating controls.
A vehicle which meets that specification took Melody to and from home earlier this month as she spent time away from hospital for the first time since October 2013.
They are, however, difficult to source and expensive for health services to hire. Subsequent visits have been called into question, only to be saved at the eleventh hour, because a suitable car could not be found.
Melody was able to spend five days at home this week and her mother hopes she is just one further step away from having her back permanently.
"She was so happy," said Karina. "My family came to see her and she was in her element. But, as soon as she was back on the ward, she burst out crying."
Karina said her family had been unable able to access financial help, such as disability living allowance, because of the length of time Melody spent in hospital following last October's operation.
They own a people carrier which they looked into adapting only to find it would be financially unviable.
A new specialised vehicle would cost around £45,000 but they have managed to find one second hand for £16,000. They have £6,000 - from social services and Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group - and have now set up an online appeal to raise the rest.
The Help Get Melody Home appeal began on Wednesday and has already raised more than £500, including a £100 donation from a woman in the US, toward the £10,000 target.
"Lots of people said they wanted to help and suggested we set up a fundraising page," said Karina.
"I wanted to try because this is the only hurdle left before we can bring her home.
"It's fantastic to have already had such a good response. I've got my fingers crossed that we will have Melody home soon."
To support the Help Get Melody Home campaign click here.