An emergency bear hunt which took place at Margate’s QEQM Hospital in the early hours of yesterday morning (November 25) has reunited a Ramsgate five-year-old with her special teddy.
Newlands pupil Emily Harris lost the bear during a visit to QEQM on Monday.
The youngster suffers from Hirchsprungs disease which affects the large intestine (colon) and prevents bowel movements.
She underwent emergency surgery in January to fit an ACE Stoma, which enables waste to be flushed from the system. Following the procedure the Breakaway Foundation, which supports children with bladder and/or bowel dysfunctions, referred Emily to A Bear Named Buttony charity.
The project sends children Buttony, a special bear with a stoma on its abdomen, just like the toy’s young owners.
Emily’s mum, Louise, 30, said: “They sent her the bear to help her understand what had happened and so she would feel less alone. She was only four when she had surgery.
“Emily had suffered chronic constipation since she was born. We were told it was probably an intolerance to certain foods. Eventually we asked for a second opinion and went to the Evelina Hospital where they carried out tests.
“That’s when we found out the problem was with the bowel. Normally it is found early in new-born babies and a section of bowel is removed. But with Emily they discovered the section of bowel is high up and cannot be removed so she was fitted with the ACE.
“She had already had four surgeries between October 2016 and January this year and has spent long periods of time on Rainbow Ward, where they have all been so amazing and caring.”
Emily, who regularly attends Evelina, Canterbury and Margate hospitals, is likely to eventually have a colostomy bag which she will need for life.
On Monday Louise, also mum to Oscar,4, and seven-year-old Mia, had to visit QEQM for an appointment with Oscar.
Husband Richard, a police officer, had been on night shift so Louise took the three children with her.
She said: “The consultant broke the news that Oscar has sensorineural hearing loss and needs hearing aids. It’s progressive so he will eventually lose his hearing, we just don’t know when.
“I had three children in a busy waiting room, my phone was ringing – it was Emily’s nurse telling me her latest swab is positive, so she needs antibiotics – my eldest was telling me she needed the loo and then my youngest was called in. In all the commotion poor Buttony was left behind.”
It wasn’t until the next day that Louise realised the bear was missing and, at first, she thought Emily had left him at school.
She said: “With everything else that was happening it slipped my mind to ask school until she reminded me Thursday. I searched the house and asked the school Friday and they also searched. When I picked her up he hadn’t been found so I was reasoned he had to be at home.
“I was looking through some pictures when I stumbled across the one of them both in the cafe on Monday. That’s when I realised he must have been left behind. It was the last time we had seen him!
“I immediately put my plea on Facebook, it was 11pm. My post was shared hundreds of times and I had private messages, everyone was amazing.
“One message was from a lady at the hospital to tell me people from every ward had, quite literally, gone on a bear hunt.
“Richard finished work at 3am and headed straight to the hospital as we had a tip the bear might be in the North Foreland reception.
“Richard was met by two nurses and a security guard who opened up the reception and recovered Buttony. By 4am he was home. I haven’t hugged a bear like that since I was a child!
“It is so incredible, we want to thank everyone who shared and searched.”
Buttony was returned to Emily, who Louise describes as “full of character,” later that morning. Emily then put him in his PJs and straight to bed after telling her mum: “He must be very tired after his adventure!”