Edinburgh mum raises £2,000 to buy Christmas presents for children in hospital

Samantha Harrison and daughter Quinn know what it’s like to be in hospital during the festive period

An Edinburgh mum, who spent the Christmas period in hospital with her daughter last year, is raising funds to buy presents for children who will not be able to be at home this Christmas. Samantha Harrison, whose daughter Quinn was diagnosed with kidney cancer in July 2021, setup a gofundme page to raise funds for the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) after she was overwhelmed by the support from staff at the sick kids who helped “keep the magic alive” last Christmas.

This year, Samantha and Quinn decided they wanted to give something back to the hospital and have been busy hosting raffles to contribute to the fundraising efforts. Samantha will also take part in a sponsored triathlon early in December. Launching their gofundme page in October with a goal of raising £300, the duo have since surpassed their target and have now generated more than £2,300.

Samantha said: “This whole year we had said we’re going to do something to raise some money to give back. It feels absolutely incredible. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would get to that, so I’m very very chuffed!”

Quinn and Samantha have raised more than £2000 for the Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity.

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    Six-year-old Quinn was born with Hemihypertrophy, a rare condition where one side of the body grows larger than the other. This meant she had to undergo regular scans every three months and it was during a routine scan that kidney cancer was detected last summer. But, following frequent hospital visits where Quinn received chemotherapy treatment, the six-year-old has now been in remission for seven months.

    Samantha said: “She’s been a superstar through it all. I can’t describe how amazing she was and how she coped with it – I think she coped better than me if I’m honest.” It was during their stay last December that Samantha was moved by the work of the “incredible” doctors, nurses and ECHC staff at the hospital and wanted to support them this Christmas.

    The 30-year-old mum said: “They were incredible the whole way through, and when it comes to kids they’re so fantastic. I can’t describe how much easier they make it for the parents on the wards. They’re constantly trying to keep everybody upbeat. Quinn was spoilt with presents, visits from Santa, elves, magicians, musicians and daily arts and crafts activities. Things you wouldn’t even imagine, they just bring them into the room and it’s something else. Sometimes it felt even more magical in there than it would have been at home.”

    Samantha said hospital staff were constantly going he extra mile and when Quinn had to stay in her room due to a covid scare, charity workers always made sure she had enough toys and activities so “there was never a moment where she felt bored or ignored.” Samantha said: “They keep the magic of Christmas alive in there beyond measure! It’s a horrible place to be but at the same time it’s an amazing place to be. I know that sounds silly it’s quite a humbling experience if I’m honest.

    Quinn and mum, Samantha, spent considerable time in the hospital last year - including over the Christmas period. Samantha said staff from the Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity were 'incredible' and did everything they could to make their stay enjoyable. Samantha said "when it comes to kids they’re fantastic" and they helped to "keep the magic alive" last Christmas.

    “It’s obviously a very worrying time as a mum, and then Christmas makes you even more worried – it’s a busy time, you’re trying to get organised and you can’t leave the hospital. I just can’t describe how hard they worked to make sure all of the kids have what they need. Even the parents – the first thing they do when they come in the morning is ask if you’d like a cup of tea or a piece of toast. As a mum who doesn’t want to leave their child it’s heart warming – they’re just amazing.”

    Samantha, like her daughter, has also shown tremendous fortitude in the last year and is fighting her own health battles ahead of her triathlon on December 3. After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2020, the following year Samantha was rushed to hospital after she took a nap and didn’t wake up. She later discovered she had a fluid on the brain and would require surgery.

    But, on the week of her operation to remove the fluid, Samantha was told that Quinn had cancer and Samantha cancelled her surgery to look after her daughter. Samantha’s triathlon next weekend will begin with a cycle from Penicuik to Leith, then a run from Leith to Macdonald Holyrood Hotel before swimming lengths of the pool there. She said: “I still struggle to walk some days, I struggle to do anything on other days, but I’m just really hoping that December 3 is going to be a good day an I can get through it. I did say on the gofundme page that I’m not promising Olympic times or anything like that – it will take me hours but I will finish it!”

    You can visit the gofundme page at www.gofundme.com/f/gifts-for-children-in-hospital-at-christmas. The page will be open until December 5 when all monies will be transferred to the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity to buy Christmas presents for children.

    After being diagnosed with kidney cancer in July 2021, Quinn has undergone chemotherapy treatment and has now been in remission since April 2022.