Eleven-year-old, Jesse Holt, is one of our youngest fundraisers. He’s also the youngest ever member (and vice chair!) of the Rhondda Artefacts and Research Enthusiasts, a metal detectors club whose help he enlisted to raise money for the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital, which he credits for saving his life.
Jesse, from Pentre, became ill shortly after his sixth birthday in November 2010. Although originally diagnosed with a tonsillitis, he got increasingly worse and parents Phillip and Amanda knew that it was something far more serious.
Phillip says: “Over the course of a few days, Jesse developed a rash and his tongue started to swell. There was a queue when we took him back to the medical centre so we decided to take him straight to the local A and E. I’m so glad we did because a doctor there noticed something strange in Jesse’s breathing and put him on an ECG which picked up a heart murmur. He was taken straight to high dependency and pumped with antibiotics but he just kept getting greyer and drowsier.”
Concerned that Jesse’s heart rate was becoming more erratic and that the antibiotics where not taking effect, the decision was made to move Jesse to the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff, where after a few days of investigation, Jesse was diagnosed with a very rare and serious childhood illness called Kawasaki Disease.
Dad Phillip continues: “Watching Jesse go from a healthy happy boy to a lifeless child who often was too ill to recognise us was terrifying, particularly when we didn’t even know what was making him that way. He was going in to multiple organ failure and we didn’t know why. Being at the Children’s Hospital for Wales where he could receive specialist care immediately gave us some comfort and we were right to feel re-assured because thanks to the expertise of the paediatricians, Jesse was accurately diagnosed. Kawasaki Disease doesn’t respond to the antibiotics he was being treated with and the illness is so rare, it might not have been picked up by doctors without specific knowledge of childhood diseases until it was too late.
“The irony is that the treatment for Kawasaki is simple – a massive daily dose of asprin. Once he was getting that, Jesse’s condition improved overnight and by the next morning he was sitting up in bed and we were allowed to take Jesse home on Christmas Eve. But we know things could have been different.”
Having seen his older sister and brother raise funds for the Noah’s Ark Charity, Jesse decided that he wanted to do something as a thank you too so he decided to enlisted the help of the club. Dad Phillip has been a keen metal detector enthusiast for 30 years and claims a bronze aged spear and an iron aged tankard, both of which are currently on display at the National Museum for Wales, as his proudest discoveries.
Phillip says: “Jesse has been coming with me on treasure hunts with the metal detectors’ club since he was a little boy and is currently serving his second term as vice chair. Since convincing the club to support the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity last year, we’ve collected over £200 and we’re going to continue or support in 2016. Everything at the hospital is centred around children, right down to how it’s been built and decorated. Fundraising for the Noah’s Ark Charity is just our way of thanking the hospital for returning Jesse to the energetic, happy boy we know and love.”
Sharing the same sentiment on his Instagram page, Jesse says: “Just donated £205 from me and my metal detecting club to Noah’s Ark children’s hospital for a thanks to them for saving my life when I was 6 years old, here I am 5 years later with a happy life #thanks, #lifesavers.”
The charity’s Director, Suzanne Mainwaring, says: “Jesse’s story just demonstrates how vital it is to have a hospital in Wales that specialises in children’s medicine. We wouldn’t be able to support the hospital in the way we do without the continued support of the Welsh public and we’re hugely grateful to Jesse and his fundraising team for their efforts.”