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News > Mum’s mission for better healthcare after life-saving treatment
Mum’s mission for better healthcare after life-saving treatment
Sunday 14th July 2013

A mother of one from Gwynedd is on a mission to brighten the lives of hospital patients and people receiving health care in the community.

Kirsty Thomson, 34, from Groeslon, near Caernarfon, nearly died when giving birth to her son, Macsen, who's now an energetic and healthy four year old.

Luckily, NHS staff realised she was suffering from a life-threatening complication of pregnancy - without their speedy response both Kirsty and Macsen might not have survived.

Now fully recovered, Kirsty has been appointed the Head of Fundraising for Awyr Las (Blue Sky), the umbrella body for nearly 300 health care charities in the region.

Kirsty said "The purpose of Awyr Las is to make patients’ lives brighter. Quite simply, through Awyr Las people can make healthcare better, whether that’s in hospitals or in the community.

"The charity goes over and above what the NHS provides. It's all about those added extras that make all the difference."

Kirsty and her partner, Steffan Huws, are now expecting their second child but things weren't so bright in 2009 when things started to go disastrously wrong when Macsen was due to be born.

She said: "The reason why I wanted to be a part of Awyr Las is because of the fantastic life-saving treatment I received from the NHS.

"I was originally planning to have a home birth but I was rushed to hospital because I had something called HELLP Syndrome, a dangerous obstetric complication.

"The community midwife realised that something was going wrong and got me hospital very quickly. The staff realised that I had HELLP Syndrome which basically meant that my liver and kidneys had stopped functioning properly.

"They were able to look after me expertly and I was still able to have a natural birth. Although I needed high dependency care for a few days, the midwives were able to help me breastfeed and I got better after a week.

"I am therefore passionate about Awyr Las because I have seen first hand what a difference good quality healthcare can make.

"I’m now a woman on a mission to support others who want to help patients and their families and who want to say thank you to the fantastic healthcare staff across North Wales."

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev Barry Morgan, also offers his support for the charity. He said: “Awyr Las exists to provide facilities in hospitals which go over and above what the NHS provides.

"Wards are refurbished, cancer research extended, arts in health programmes are but a few of the things this charity enables across North Wales.

“Supporting this charity can make a real difference to ordinary people’s lives when they need it most – when they are ill and vulnerable.”

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Working with Kirsty as part of the Fundraising Support Team are Community Fundraising Coordinator, Cath More, and Patrick Roberts, Administrative and Donor Care Assistant.

But the organisation itself isn't new. Charitable support for hospitals started even before the birth of the NHS - it was the big society in action long before David Cameron coined the phrase.

Cath explained: "If you want to support Alaw Ward in Ysbyty Gwynedd or if you want to support the Renal Unit in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, then you can do exactly that.

"We are patient led in terms of where donations go. The aim is to support the needs of patients but we also follow donors’ wishes.

"Our job is to represent donors who give to wards and healthcare services. We make sure that volunteer fundraisers and donors really have a good experience and we make sure that we can maximise opportunities for providing this additional support that is so needed.

"The reason why it’s so important is because exceptional care requires exceptional support.

"The NHS does a super job. We work very closely with NHS healthcare staff to identify the needs of patients and to identify what the NHS does and doesn’t provide.

"From there we can work out what our fundraising priorities should be and we then liaise with those who really want to give back.”

According to Patrick, the donations could provide everything from video games for children in waiting rooms to comfy chairs in cancer wards.

“We work with people who have been patients or patients’ families as well as other people who really want to make a difference in their community.

"For example, we have been supporting fundraisers like Dylan Lewis, from Deiniolen, in Gwynedd, who was involved in a car crash, nearly died. A year on he did a 10k race to raise money for A&E with his physios and nurses from A&E.

"Then there was a gentleman who wanted to give back to a ward in the hospital after his son became ill whilst on holiday in North Wales.  He’s originally from Oswestry but he recently walked up Snowdon barefoot to raise money for the ward.

"It’s heart-warming to see how patients and their families and friends want to give back after massive events in their lives. Through Awyr Las they can do that in so many different ways."