The face of The Children’s Hospital Charity’s Christmas appeal is a seven-year-old girl whose life was saved by Sheffield Children’s Hospital following a horrific dog attack which left her skull exposed.
Sophie Evans and her family are urging people in the run-up to Christmas to get behind the charity’s National Elf Service campaign, which encourages people to 'dress up and get elfy' on Friday 13th December.
Every penny raised will go towards The Children’s Hospital Charity’s appeal to build a new Emergency Department.
Sophie’s starring role in the appeal follows a dramatic year for the family, which began when the Wombwell schoolgirl was attacked by a German Shepherd in January 2019.
Her Mum Lyndsey rushed to her daughter as soon as she heard the news, finding her covered in blood, with bite wounds across her face and scalp that were so severe they left her skull visible.
Lyndsey said: “I got a phone call at work to say Sophie had been attacked and I was heartbroken when I saw her.
"To this day, I cannot believe how brave she was when I arrived, she just held out her hand and said ‘Mummy, I’m okay’.
Sophie was rushed by ambulance to her local hospital.
Upon reviewing her injuries, the consultant immediately arranged for her to be transferred for specialist emergency care at Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department.
Lyndsey recalled: “As an Emergency Department receptionist, I’m used to seeing people on their worst days.
"But nothing can prepare you for being on the other side as a parent.”
Sophie arrived by ambulance to the Emergency Department team at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where the team immediately dressed Sophie’s head, face and eye and scheduled surgery for the following morning.
The next day, Sophie spent four-and-a-half hours in surgery.
The clinicians cleaned and stitched her wounds and only two days later the family were discharged home.
Three weeks after the family were discharged, Sophie was able to return to school thanks to the care she received at Sheffield Children’s.
Lyndsey continued: “After one of our most stressful years, we’re really looking forward to spending some quality time together as a family after one of our most stressful years, celebrating having two happy and healthy children once again.
"Of course, they can’t wait for Christmas dinner and a visit from Santa!”
“All the staff who helped us were absolutely amazing, words will never be enough to explain how forever grateful we will be. On the worst day of our lives, they made sure we were all looked after and reassured.
“Thanks to the magic hands of the Emergency Department team, her scars are barely noticeable today. We will always be in their debt, they fixed my Sophie up and she is perfect to us once again.
“As a family, we’ve devoted ourselves to making sure the patients have the best facilities possible. We’re committed to helping The Children’s Hospital Charity build a new Emergency Department, but we can’t do it alone.”
The Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital was built to see a maximum of 32,000 patients every year but last year saw almost 57,000.
In addition to the expanded waiting room and clinical space, the redevelopment will also build a dedicated space for children with mental health issues or learning difficulties and a separate area for adolescents.
For critically-ill patients arriving by ambulance or helicopter, the expansion will also create a much-needed larger resuscitation area.
Lyndsey added: “Sophie was taken into the resuscitation area, which is a small space.
"With me both me and her dad, and all the staff members treating Sophie it was difficult to move around.
"The staff are amazing but the facilities need expanding.”
Abbie Pervin, regional fundraising manager at The Children’s Hospital Charity added: “This December, we’re calling on you to ‘elf yourself’ and change children’s lives at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“Last Christmas, our supporters helped to raise over £33,000 for our hospital and we’re hoping to raise even more this time around, as a new Emergency Department has never been more needed. By dressing up for the day this festive season, you can make a huge difference to children like Sophie for years to come.”
To sign up to National Elf Service and receive your free fundraising pack, visit www.tchc.org.uk