THE family of a baby born prematurely with serious gastric problems have said a special thank you to the trust which helped them through the ordeal.

Alexia Swales, from Whitby, North Yorkshire, was born with gastroschisis, a condition where the bowel grows on the outside of the body. Weighing just 3lb 3ozs, Alexia needed specialist treatment and was transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where she stayed for more than a week before being transferred to Leeds where she received further treatment.

While Alexia was in hospital her worried parents, Amy Lax and Shaun Swales, and were able to stay close to their daughter, their first child, in Crawford House in Newcastle and Eckersley House in Leeds, special home from home accommodation near the hospitals which is provided by the Sick Children’s Trust.

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Her mother said:“ Shaun and I were scared, and far from home and all our family, so we were comforted when a nurse on Alexia’s ward told us about Crawford House, provided by The Sick Children’s Trust.

"It was reassuring to be given a room in the house where we could freshen up, get some much-needed rest and be close by to Alexia at all times, especially in the first few days when her condition was so critical.

“ It was really upsetting being on the ward all the time, seeing our little girl hooked up to lots of machines and surrounded by lots of other poorly babies. It was lovely to be able to go back to the house and feel the comforts of home and get some peace and quiet to enable us both to be strong for Alexia."

After eight days, they were told Leeds had a bed for Alexia and they were able to transfer and offered a room in Eckersley House.

“We were able to stay there for the remainder of Alexia’s treatment which was just amazing," said her mother. "It gave us a sense of normality in a situation that was so far from any experience we had ever had. Alexia had further treatment including a blood transfusion and surgery so it was vital we could stay close by.

“Shaun and I were finally able to take Alexia home and could start our new life as a family. I cannot overestimate the importance of the accommodation that The Sick Children’s Trust provides. Because of the charity, we were able to be with Alexia night and day and bond with her. We would never have coped without the Sick Children’s Trust."

For more details on the Sick Children's Trust visit