THE family of a two-year-old girl suffering from cystic fibrosis has raised thousands of pounds for Love Your Hospital’s CF Fund.
Francesca Welch was diagnosed with the life-limiting genetic condition, in which the lungs and digestive system become clogged with thick, sticky mucus, when she was just three-weeks-old.
The condition requires Francesca to take five different types of medication a day, including antibiotics administered using a nebuliser. She also has physiotherapy sessions twice a day.
Recalling the moment she was told her daughter had cystic fibrosis, Francesca’s mum, Ashlie said: “It was unreal. We didn’t even know of cystic fibrosis in the family. Me and my husband didn’t know we were carriers of the gene.
“Your brain doesn’t take it all in. We didn’t know what was going to happen. It’s a bit scary to know there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Thirty-five is the average life expectancy for someone with the condition. However, Ashlie hopes with the advances in CF research, Francesca could live until the age of 50.
Ashlie, 35, and her husband Wesley, 37, of Goldsmith Road, Broadwater, had three healthy children before Francesca – Charley, 17, Brooke, 11, and Ronnie, three.
“Francesca was losing weight rapidly and had nasty nappies,” said Ashlie. “Her pancreas wasn’t working and she wasn’t absorbing any goodness from her milk.
“We only found out she had it from the Guthrie Test where they give the baby a heel prick.
“The day after you find out your child tests positive for it they want you up in the Royal Brompton in London.”
The couple opened their own estate agency business – W Welch estate agents in Chapel Road, Worthing – seven-weeks-ago, in order to be closer Francesca in the day time.
The business has donated £1,000 to the charity to form a corporate partnership.
In July, the Welchs held a fun day at their home raising £830.10. They also raised £42 by doing the ice bucket challenge and, most recently, did the Flying for Francesca 10,000ft skydive at the Old Sarum airfield near Salisbury, raising £804.96. The family has also donated two Samsung Galaxy tablets to the children’s departments at Worthing and St Richard’s hospitals.
Money raised for the CF fund pays for improved nebulisers, wifi access for families and their children on the hospital ward and for games and DVDs to keep children entertained while they stay in hospital.
Next June, the Welchs will hold a ticket-only 80s-themed fundraising evening.