At six months old, Imogen Champion was diagnosed with oesophageal varices, which is abnormal, enlarged veins in the tube that connects the throat and stomach. Her diagnosis came about when she suddenly became very ill with an internal bleed that required emergency admission to King’s.
After life-saving treatment, Imogen and her parents – Emily and Colin Champion – spent 16 months visiting the hospital for regular camera procedures, ultrasounds, MRI scans and liver biopsies.
While her check-ups always brought good news, sometimes Imogen was a little frightened and upset by the procedures. Playing in the toy rooms was a welcome distraction for her and here Emily and Colin saw their daughter quickly bounce back to her happy, playful self.
Sadly, on 26 June 2016, at the age of 22 months, Imogen collapsed unexpectedly. The paramedics were unable to save her, she had suffered heart failure.
Very soon after they lost Imogen, Emily and Colin decided that they wanted to help improve other children's lives in their daughter’s memory. Emily explains:
"Imogen was a very special, brave, kind little girl who loved life and exploring the world around her. She was adored by all of us. Colin and I wanted to say thank you to King's for saving Imogen's life initially when she was so seriously ill and then for giving her expert care and showing her such kindness.”
The Champions raised £2,500 through generous donations. This figure was matched by Santander Bank bringing the total amount raised to £5,000. The money has been used to refurbish the children’s therapy gym at King's. A new colour scheme, increased storage and updated décor have made the space child friendly, developmentally appropriate and bright. Hospital can sometimes be a scary place for some of our very youngest patients. As well as the distraction that these environments offer to children who are poorly or in discomfort, play and physical exercise have a special function in the hospital environment as a therapeutic tool for a child’s recovery or rehabilitation.
“We feel very honoured to have helped to refurbish the therapy gym in Imogen's memory. We will continue to raise funds for King's College Hospital children's wards.” says Emily.
Over and above their generous donation, the Champions and Santander employees offered their time to help with the completion of the work. It seems fitting that the gym has been renamed the ‘Champion Gym’.