Marathon effort for hospital

SISTERS from Queens Park have been so touched by the care their brother has received at the neurology hospital at University College London they are planning to run a marathon in its honour.

From the moment Sam Guilfoyle, 21, was admitted to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) in Queens Square in Bloomsbury for emergency surgery to reduce the swelling on his brain after contracting bacterial meningitis, the nurses and doctors went above and beyond to keep the family calm during the traumatic time.

Amelia Guilfoyle, 27, said: “From the start they have been really wonderful – they have given us our space when we need it and have been there when we need them. They have one relative room there and obviously, as I’m one of nine children, there were a lot of us at the hospital for that first night and the staff let us stay over in the relatives’ room all night, bringing us cups of tea.

“The doctors, obviously, have been fantastic, treating Sam wonderfully, but you see more of the nurses and they have just had such a big impact on the way Sam and all of us feel being in the hospital.

“They are always personable, they always give you an honest answer and if they don’t know they go and find out.

“Someone has even sourced a television for Sam’s room, which makes a big difference to his quality of life.

“When he has stomach problems because of his food they put peppermint tea in his feeding tube to soothe it.

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“Over the Christmas period, even though it takes three nurses to move him they brought him out with all the family on Boxing Day to a lovely square nearby, which was just wonderful for us.”

Sam was admitted to A&E at North Middlesex in September after two weeks of illness. After four days he lost consciousness and was rushed to the NHNN where they operated to reduce swelling on his brain.

Sam is still in intensive care at the hospital and is being weaned off the ventilator. At one stage he could go for just one minute an hour without the ventilator and now he can breath on his own for 35 minutes in every hour.

While the family was gathering around Sam’s bedside, visiting him and watching his progress, one of his eight siblings spotted a London marathon poster on the wall and Amelia and her sister Jess Guilfoyle, 30, decided it was the perfect way to thank the people who had helped their little brother so much.

Amelia said: “We decided fairly early on when Sam was ill that we wanted to do it and we put in the application because it’s quite a good thing for us to focus on, to take our mind off what’s happening, and because he’s really in to running.

“It has also been something really good to talk to him about – our goal as he is trying to reach his.”

Running the marathon is particularly fitting as Sam was a keen runner before his illness and was training to go to the exclusive officer’s academy Sandhurst before the virus struck.

The sisters are aiming to raise more than �6,000 for the hospital with �3,289 pledged so far.

Amelia said: “The aim is to run it in a time that won’t embarrass Sam and that doesn’t leave us stuck with the novelty rhino costumes with a time of six hours.”

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