A MAJOR fundraising bid is under way to build a dedicated room near the new Sick Kids Hospital for babies and toddlers with cancer – in memory of toddler Kai Laidlaw.
Kai spent most of his life fighting leukaemia, which his family chronicled on social media, before his death in January, aged just three.
It is hard to keep a toddler entertained on a ward. They want to play even if they do have cancer.Pam Neilson
Now his mum, Pamela Neilson, of Leith, is raising money for a dedicated space for very young cancer patients that will help families during their darkest days.
She has teamed up with the charity CCLASP (Children with Cancer and Leukaemia Advice and Support for Parents), which plans to build a drop-in centre near the new children’s hospital at Little France.
Pam, 38, said: “I wanted to do something that would make a difference, as when Kai was first in hospital there was nothing like that.
“It’s different when it is older children because you can have video games and that sort of thing to cheer them up, but there is nothing for the wee ones. It is hard to keep a toddler entertained on a ward. They want to play even if they do have cancer.
“The problem is children with cancer bruise easily and can get infections, but we want them to still be able to be children.
“During everything it is so important to see them doing something normal.”
Kai’s room will be part of the purpose-built Howat Foundation CCLASP Centre, which will be built in Upper Craigour after the charity received a £1 million grant.
Kai’s appeal has already raised more than £9000 but it needs to raise £20,000 to kit out the room.
Plans include a dinosaur theme – as they were Kai’s favourite toy – as well as soft flooring, sensory lighting and toys for children up to five years old.
Pam said: “Kai’s life meant something and I want his death to have made a change for the better.”
Valerie Simpson established the charity CCLASP with her husband Bill after their son Robert was treated for leukaemia more than 20 years ago.
Valerie, 59, of Leith, said: “The centre will be there for any families whose children have cancer, to just get away from the hospital for a couple of hours.
“We knew Kai his whole life and it is very special for us to have a space in his memory.”
The purpose-built centre is due to open next autumn, in line with the new Sick Kids Hospital.
It will have a number of different rooms for children and teenagers, a roof garden and a cafe for families to use.