THE family of a baby who died from an incredibly rare lung condition have paid tribute to the youngster who touched lives around the world.
Erin Field’s parents said they were “heartbroken” after the 14-month-old lost her battle, less than two weeks after becoming ill.
A fundraising campaign to pay for possible treatment abroad had already collected £4,000 when Erin died at Leeds General Infirmary last week. Her family said they had been touched by hundreds of messages, some from thousands of miles away, received after her death.
Grandma Maria McHarrie, speaking on behalf of Erin’s parents Sarah and Robert, said: “Erin has touched thousands of lives across the world. There are messages coming in from New Zealand, American and Australia. We are just overwhelmed with messages and cards of support. It’s all inspired by a lovely little girl from Arthington. It’s incredible really.”
Erin, from Arthington, near Pool-in-Wharfedale, was taken ill earlier this month but did not appear to be seriously poorly. She was admitted to hospital after her mother noticed her daughter’s heart was racing.
Tests showed she was suffering from pulmonary veno-occlusive disease (PVOD). The condition, so rare that only a handful of cases have been seen in the UK, causes high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs and the chances of survival among children are poor.
Erin’s health deteriorated and she was admitted to intensive care and experts decided a lung transplant might be her only option. Her family, including Erin’s eight-year-old brother, Bailey, had started the fundraising drive, which would be needed as surgery in America might have been an option, when Erin’s condition worsened. She died a week ago today.
Her mother told supporters on Facebook: “Myself and Rob are heartbroken. Our beautiful angel will rest in peace and never ever be forgotten. Thank you for all the messages of support that have helped us get through this nightmare.”
Erin’s grandmother, 55, added: “It was just time for her to go. She just decided that was enough. We have still got faith. We believe that everything is for a reason. We’re not clear as to what the reason is yet.”
She said the support the family had got, both from the community linked to Bailey’s school in Otley and their church Our Lady and All Saints, as well as the support through social media had been “overwhelming”. They were also backed by Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, whose children attend the same school as Bailey.
“It’s just been so touching and it strengthens your faith in human nature,” Mrs McHarrie said, and added that her daughter and son-in-law had found some comfort in the support. You just don’t think there’s any way to get release from the pain, but they keep looking at all the messages and it’s been amazing. It’s been a tremendous help.”
Erin’s family are keen to support research, as well as use money raised to help organisations which helped them. They intend to split the donations between The Sick Children’s Trust, which provides accommodation for parents at LGI which Sarah and Robert stayed in, and The British Lung Foundation.
They are also considering setting up a charity solely for PVOD research. For information or to donate, log on to http://erinfield.org or search for Erin Field Fundraising Campaign on Facebook.