PARENTS
12/02/2016 06:17 GMT | Updated 12/02/2016 06:59 GMT

Mother's Brave Campaign For Daughter Who Died From An Illness She Initially Thought Was A Chest Infection

A mother whose five-year-old daughter died from an illness that initially appeared to be nothing more than a "simple chest infection", has launched a fundraising campaign in her child's honour.

Natalia Spencer will walk the entire coastline of Britain to raise money for Bristol Children's Hospital where her daughter Elizabeth was treated before she died.

Spencer described her daughter as being a "fit, active and healthy" child but in November 2015, she was taken ill with what the family thought was a chest infection.

"Within hours her condition had quickly deteriorated and she was diagnosed with a rare auto immune condition called secondary HLH," Spencer explained on her JustGiving page.


Secondary Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare disorder of the immune system often caused by an inherited problem. With this condition, cells in a person's immune system don't work properly to destroy damaged cells as they should.

Spencer said Elizabeth's condition worsened to the point where she couldn't breathe and an emergency team were called at the hospital.

"For first time we realised that things were getting desperate – our daughter’s life was slipping away," she wrote on her blog.

"She was so ill that her body had shut down the blood supply to everything apart from her heart and brain, cutting off the supply to other organs and her limbs with dreadful consequences."

Elizabeth remained unconscious in hospital for 18 days before she died.

"The nursing staff demonstrated so much care and compassion for Elizabeth that I could not have improved on their efforts myself," Spencer added.


Spencer said she was inspired by how much the doctors and nurses tried to save her daughter, so she decided to set up Elizabeth's Footprint - a fundraising campaign to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity.

Spencer hopes to raise money for life-saving equipment, family accommodation and arts, music and play therapy for patients and their families at the hospital.

She said she used the symbol of a rainbow for her campaign to reflect the "dazzling personality of her little girl".

The mother will be starting her walk on Sunday 14 February.

"I will start my journey in Durdle Door and walk clockwise around the whole coast of Great Britain," she explained.

"Rather than getting bogged down with having to walk a certain number of miles a day, I have chosen to concentrate on walking from town to town, stopping overnight in larger villages and towns if at all possible."

She is aiming to walk 20 miles per day and only use transport when absolutely necessary. Her four-week walking schedule can be viewed here.

Spencer added: "I hope to find this journey therapeutic for my own personal grief and I am looking forward to discovering parts of Britain that I have never seen before, and Elizabeth will be with me, in spirit, every step of the way."

To donate, visit Spencer's JustGiving page.

For more information on her ongoing fundraising efforts, visit elizabethsfootprint.com.

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