Mum raises funds for Charity as thanks for daughter’s life-changing care

When Keiley Ball went to her 20-week scan, she was told that there was an 80% chance that her child would never walk or talk.

When Keiley Ball went to her 20-week scan, she was told that there was an 80% chance that her child would never walk or talk.

During her appointment, the clinicians noticed there was a bowel issue with her baby. Following further testing it was found that the baby had an infection known as congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV).

CMV is a common virus that is usually harmless in adults but can lead to complications when passed on to a child during pregnancy. Keiley was told that due to the severity of the infection, there was an 80% chance that her daughter would never walk or talk.

Gracie-Mae was born on the 31st March 2018 by emergency c-section, staying in the ICU at the Jessops wing of Sheffield Teaching Hospital until she was two weeks old. She then had hospital appointments almost every day at Sheffield Children’s Hospital as the team at the Trust worked out how to offer Gracie-Mae the best care.

Gracie-Mae was put on a course of antibiotics for six months. This couldn’t stop the infection but could help to reduce the long-lasting effects.

Tests found that she was deaf in her right ear and received care with the hearing department. She also had a condition called nystagmus that caused a wobble in one of her eyes, and she needed support from the eye department to correct this.

Gracie receives care from teams across Sheffield Children’s to this day. This includes the Infectious Diseases team, the Gastroenterology team, the Neurology team, along with the hearing and eye departments.

A neurologist told Keiley that if Gracie-Mae wasn’t walking and talking by age five then she wouldn’t do so. Gracie-Mae is almost six years old, and she can walk. She still uses a chair for longer distances as she does get tired but is able to walk independently for short distances.

While Gracie doesn’t talk, she is able to communicate using Makaton (a unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate) to interact with her family and friends. Gracie-Mae is a bubbly and lively little girl, and her family are so grateful for all the care she has received at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Mum, Keiley, said: “We’ve had a brilliant experience with Sheffield Children’s. Every time we’ve had a question or needed something they have been there for us.”

To say thank you for Gracie-Mae’s care Keiley is taking on The Children’s Hospital Charity’s abseil challenge.

Sheffield Children’s is one of just three standalone specialist children’s hospital Trust’s in the UK, providing the best possible care for children all over Yorkshire, the UK and beyond.

The Children’s Hospital Charity supports specialist treatment from head to toe, by funding life-saving equipment, new facilities, a comfortable environment, and vital research, which changes paediatric care for thousands of children from across the world.

On Sunday 21st April The Children’s Hospital Charity is inviting brave supporters to join them for Theo’s abseil and propel 160ft down Sheffield Hallam University’s Owen Building.

This is the latest fundraising effort for Keiley and her family, who have previously attended the Charity’s Chatsworth Walk. Their fundraising started as a way to give back for all the care that Gracie-Mae and has now become something they have done for several years.

Keiley is taking on the abseil alongside her cousin and will be channelling her nerves to support the many families who use Sheffield Children’s.

She said: “I just thought it was something different. Although I’m getting more nervous as it gets closer. When I think of all that the kids at the hospital go through, I can climb over and walk down that wall!”

To support Keiley’s fundraising click here.

Sign up to take on the abseil challenge here.