THERE is only one person teenager Destiny Docherty looks for when she steps into the Sick Kids hospital in Sciennes for her latest infusion.
The 11-year-old was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease throughout her gastrointestinal tract – a life-long illness that causes inflammation in the gut – four years ago.
The diagnosis devastated her family, but was the start of a special relationship between Destiny and gastroenterology and live-in nurse specialist Pamela Rodgers that has helped the youngster get back on her feet.
Ms Rodgers, who started working with Destiny in February 2009, helped the youngster through the condition’s worst stages.
Destiny spent a whole month in hospital and was put on the nutritional Modulen diet for 42 days in an effort to relieve her symptoms.
A course of steroids across five months resulted in her weight climbing to five-and-a-half stone.
Ms Rodgers said: “Destiny has gone through quite a lot. But Crohn’s disease doesn’t only affect the patient, it also effects the whole family.
“There is no cure, so they sometimes feel that their lives revolve around hospitals and illness, which can be quite tiring for the families.
“We now have her on a specific medication and she’s well now. She still has ups and downs, but the family is getting on with life. It’s great to look after her.”
That commitment to Destiny’s cause prompted mother Fiona Docherty to nominate the 53-year-old nurse for the Sick Kids Heroes awards.
The initiative is aiming to highlight the courage shown by patients and the often extraordinary efforts gone to by supporters and staff.
Ms Rodgers, nominated in the category for “a member of staff who has made the ultimate difference”, started working at the Sick Kids in 1998.
The Newington nurse said: “I had been working in the Royal Infirmary, mainly in the surgical unit, looking after people who required long-term nutrition help and some of those patients had Crohn’s disease.
“I’d been asked if I’d come to do some training here for a patient. It blossomed from that.
“I really enjoy working with the teenagers. You get a lot out of it.”
Mrs Docherty said: “If I’ve got any worries or any concerns then I phone Pam. Pam explains everything so we know what’s going on. She makes every kid feel so special.
“Destiny loves Pam. She goes in every week to the Sick Kids for an infusion and she looks forward to seeing Pam. If Pam’s not there, she feels a bit disheartened.”
Crohn’s disease can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss.
A modest Ms Rodgers said: “There’s a team within the Sick Kids looking after teenagers with inflammatory bowel disease – it’s not just down to one person.”
Nominations for the Sick Kids Heroes awards can be made at www.edinburghsickkids.org/events/nominate, by phoning 0131-668 4949, or by sending in our coupon. The deadline for entries is midnight tonight.
Winners will be announced at a special ceremony and three-course meal at the Caledonian Hotel on May 10. Tickets are £40 each and can be booked by calling SKFF on 0131-668 4949.